Sacramento Republic FC improved to 4-1-0 against Highway 99 Derby rival Fresno FC in all competitions with a dramatic late victory at Papa Murphy's Park. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Stefano Bonomo scored his first goal for Sacramento Republic FC in the 123rd minute to give his side a dramatic 1-0 extra time victory over Fresno FC to advance to the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at Papa Murphy’s Park.
Bonomo's header – which proved to be the final touch of the match – was his first goal in a competitive game since July 28, 2018 when he found the back of the net as a member of the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Republic FC nearly took the lead in the opening minute of the game from a corner kick as Mitchell Taintor reached Elliot Hord’s delivery but headed wide of Sam Howard’s goal. Renato Bustamante responded with a pair of efforts for Fresno but found the side netting in the ninth minute and then forced Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen into a save two minutes later.
Cohen did well to control a pair of long-range strikes from Fresno midfielder Juan Pablo Caffa just after the half-hour mark and Howard watched a curling strike from Hord dip just over his crossbar just before halftime as the two sides went into the break scoreless. Sacramento started the second half as the stronger of the two sides, with Jordan McCrary forcing a low save out of Howard with a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 57th minute.
Sam Werner looked to have given the home side the lead nine minutes later as he dribbled down the right wing and cut to the top of the area before firing a left-footed shot off the underside of the crossbar, which upon replay looked to have just barely crossed the line before bouncing back into play. However, referee Farhad Dadkho didn’t have access to goal-line technology or replay and understandably waved play on.
The contest started to open up over the final 15 minutes with both sides hoping to snatch a late winner and avoid extra time. Cohen denied a right-footed shot from Fresno winger Jemal Johnson with 12 minutes remaining and Bonomo and Werner forced saves out of Howard over the final nine minutes, but the Highway 99 rivals couldn’t break the deadlock before extra time.
Bonomo maybe should have given Sacramento the lead in the 105th minute as he reached McCrary’s right-wing cross, but the forward angled his header wide of the target. Both sides pushed for a winner late in the second half of extra time with substitute Villyan Bijev shooting at Howard in the 118th minute and Elijah Martin forcing a sprawling save from Cohen in the 122nd minute.
Just when the game looked set for a penalty shootout, Werner tracked down an overhit cross on the left wing and picked out Bonomo at the back post for the forward to head home with the final touch of the contest, sending Papa Murphy’s Park into a frenzy and Republic FC into the Fourth Round.