Chicharito says its goal No. 2 for him, but referee says he has to check VAR. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
CARSON, Calif. – Depending on your vantage point, it was a nightmare match or a dream game.
For the Red Bulls, it definitely was a nightmare as the great Javier Hernandez sliced up the visitors’ defense.
The man also known as Chicharito enjoyed that dream game, registering a hat-trick to lift the LA Galaxy to a wild 3-2 victory in an entertaining contest at Dignity Health Sports Park Sunday night.
It was the second consecutive defeat for the Red Bulls, who fell to 0-2 after last week’s 2-1 season-opening loss to Sporting Kansas City at home.
The game needed an extra 11 minutes to finish as that much time was added as second half stoppage time.
Chicharito, who was named MLS player of the week on the strength of his brace in the Galaxy’s season opener last week, was at the top of his game in the opening half, striking twice to give LA a 2-1 lead at the interval.
He latched onto a pass from the left wing in which he slid the ball past goalkeeper Carlos Coronel in the ninth minute.
Andrew Gutman demonstrated his skill with some nifty passing with Brian White on the left flank, depositing the ball into the back of the net in the 26th minute to knot things up at 1-1 for his first MLS goal.
Chicharito was on it again the 41st minute when, with the help of a well-timed Victor Vazquez feed from the left flank, split the Red Bulls defense and beat Cornel from six yards. The linesman claimed that the Mexican international was offside, but after a look at VAR, it was ruled a goal.
The Galaxy striker was far from finished as he secured his first hat-trick in some 4 1/2 years on the hour. A lot of that goal had to do with a pair of Red Bulls errors. First, a long pass out of the back was intercepted at midfield.
LA worked the ball down the right side and a cross was sent into the box. Center back Aaron Long tried to clear, but it went off his foot to Chicharito on the left side of the area as he tallied his first hat-trick in almost 4 1/2 years.
Chicharito was forced out of the match with a leg injury in the second half.
The Red Bulls moved back within a goal in the 63rrd minute when Cristian Casseres, Jr. beat goalkeeper Jonathan Bond from close range.