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Both teams looked to control the tempo early in the game, but Phoenix’s aggressiveness almost paid off in the 13th minute when Santi Moar found Darnell King breaking into space up the right flank.

The full back moved into the penalty area and fired a low shot to the left corner of the net that Sacramento’s Rafael Diaz got down well to save before Hayden Sargis cleared the ball to safety at the second attempt.

Phoenix took the lead in the 31st minute, however, as Asante delivered another beautiful free kick finish. Set up just over 25 yards from goal, left of center, the Ghanaian fired a curling shot into the top-left corner of the net that gave Diaz little chance to save. Things then quickly worsened for the hosts as they were reduced to 10 men six minutes later after Fatai Alashe was sent off for a hard challenge on Phoenix’s Arturo Rodriguez in the Rising FC half.

Sacramento created a late chance to try and go into the break level as in first-half stoppage time Duke Lacroix created space to cross from the left and found Cameron Iwasa, but his header was blocked away by Phoenix’s Tate Schmitt. The hosts then went close inside the opening minute of the second half as Petteri Pennanen fired just high and wide of the left side of the net after Iwasa laid off a pass at the top of the penalty area.

The hosts went closer in the 51st minute as a corner kick from the right was deflected into the air in the penalty area and was judged well by Dariusz Formella, who caught the descending ball on the volley but shot just over the crossbar. Phoenix began to regain control with its man-advantage after Sacramento’s positive start after the break, however, and almost added a second three minutes later as Rodriguez found space for a shot in the right side of the penalty area that was saved by substitute goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, who had come on as a substitute during the first half after Diaz suffered an injury.

Aodhan Quinn went close for Rising FC in the 57th minute with a curling shot that went just wide of the top-left corner of the net, while Kevon Lambert and Asante both had long-range efforts that Gomez denied. Phoenix struck again six minutes later, however, as Moar wriggled away from a defender and found Asante in the penalty area, and his first-time pass set up David Egbo for a close-range finish.

Sacramento promptly pulled a goal back with 18 minutes to go as from a corner kick on the left, Pennanen delivered a back-post cross that was met by a header from Dan Casey that landed hard on the turf and bounded high into the right corner of the net.

The hosts then almost grabbed an equalizer with 11 minutes to go as Luis Felipe Fernandes delivered a beautiful pass forward for Tucker Bone as he broke toward the top of the penalty area, but Bone’s finish slid wide of the right post as he tried to finish first time.

Republic FC pushed to find an equalizer late on as Phoenix settled to sit back and look to counter and the hosts had a chance from a free kick in stoppage time off a free kick that was driven into the base of the wall as Fernandes tried to bend a low shot toward the bottom-left corner. Sacramento held play in the Phoenix end, though, and almost grabbed a goal as Jaime Villarreal created space in the left side of the penalty area and fired a shot that deflected off a defender and on target, but Rising FC’s Andre Rawls was alert to make the save, ending the last chance at a comeback.

Source: USLChampionship

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