David Villa (left) battles Sal Zizzo for the ball. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — New York City FC added another chapter to the legend of David Villa Sunday night.
Villa connected for his first Major League Soccer hat-trick, including the game-winning penalty kick in the 75th minute, to power City to a 3-2 victory over the Red Bulls in the latest edition of the Hudson River Derby at Yankee Stadium.
The triumph gave third-place NYCFC (12-7-4, 40 points) the season series, 2-0, with Game No. 3 at Red Bull Arena Aug. 25 and extended the hosts home unbeaten streak to eight games while snapping the fourth-place Red Bulls’ (11-9-2, 35) winning streak at four.
The Red Bulls still lead the all-time league series, 5-3, which doesn’t include a 1-0 victory over City in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup in June.
The 2010 World Cup winner was at his best with the game on the line, striking twice within a three-minute span in the second half to turn the game on its head.
With the Red Bulls enjoying a 2-1 lead, the 35-year-old Villa took over in front of a soccer capacity crowd of 33,679.
In the 72nd minute he beat goalkeeper Luis Robles at the near right post to equalize at 2-2. After Sal Zizzo fouled him in the box for a yellow card, Villa drilled a penalty into the lower left corner for the game-winner in the 75th minute (Zizzo was sent off for accruing his second yellow card in the 90th minute).
NYCFC had the better opportunities in an intense and sometimes physical and always entertaining opening half, but walked into the locker room with a 1-1 deadlock.
The hosts struck first as midfielder Alex Ring launched a long ball to Villa, who went 1 v 1 with Robles in the penalty area before veering to his left before depositing the ball into the net in the 28th minute.
Against the run of play in the 41st minute, the Red Bulls equalized on BWP’s 16-yard shot past keeper Sean Johnson.
The Red Bulls suffered a tough loss in the 14th minute after midfielder Daniel Royer, the MLS player of the month in July (six goals in four games), was forced out with a right knee injury.