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Matchday Report: Kurimoto Lifts Energy FC to Dramatic Late Win in Tulsa

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 07/17/21, 10:09PM EDT

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Volleyed finish in sixth minute of stoppage time earns 2-1 win after Da Costa leveled late for hosts

TULSA, Okla. – Hiroki Kurimoto scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time to grab a 2-1 victory for OKC Energy FC against FC Tulsa on Saturday night at ONEOK Field to even the Black Gold Derby series for this season and take a thrilling win moments after Tulsa had pulled level late through Rodrigo da Costa.

Tulsa almost got out to a perfect start as a looping header over the OKC back line by Da Costa was met on then volley by Dario Suarez with the outside of his right foot, but the finish went just wide of the left post. Suarez also went close in the 20th minute as after a corner from the right caused a scramble at the near post, the Cuban headed toward goal but saw his effort cleared away by OKC defender Sam Rogers.

Energy FC had an early chance of its own as Arun Basuljevic fired a long-range shot just wide of the left post, but the visitors went close to taking the lead just before the half-hour mark as it looked to work quickly after Tulsa goalkeeper Austin Wormell misplayed a clearance from his own penalty area. Kurimoto executed a cushioned header that quickly got the ball to Villyan Bijev in space, 20 yards from goal, but his low shot from the top of the penalty area to the bottom-right corner was well saved by Wormell.

Kurimoto quickly set up another chance for Energy FC as he played Jaime Chavez in for a first-time shot from the right side of the penalty area that Wormell turned wide of the near post, while in the final minute of the first half Tulsa almost grabbed the lead as Matt Sheldon played a give-and-go with Da Costa that set up a chance that he lifted over the crossbar as the game went to the break scoreless.

Tulsa’s Suarez had another chance blocked away five minutes into the second half as the hosts looked to get back onto the front foot. From the ensuing corner, Tulsa was able to retain and recycle possession to Da Costa on the right for a cross that was flicked on by Kevin Garcia at the near post but wide of the left upright.

The visitors took the lead with 25 minutes to go as they turned possession over near the halfway line, allowing Kurimoto to clip a pass in from the left to Frank Lopez, who quickly unleashed a blistering shot from 25 yards into the top-right corner of the net. OKC then missed a bit chance to add a second in the 80th minute as Bijev stole possession on the left and centered for Basuljevic, who shot wide of the left post from 12 yards.

The missed chance appeared to become crucial as the game ticked into stoppage time. Awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area to the right of center, Da Costa stepped up and delivered a perfect shot over the defensive wall and into the top-right corner of the net to send the supporters behind the goal into wild celebrations.

But Energy FC had its own late heroics to call on thanks to Kurimoto. After the ball was played wide to Bijev on the left flank, he delivered a floating cross to the center of the penalty area that the Japanese midfielder sent home with a beautiful mid-air volley into the right corner of the net to even the regular-season series between the rivals and earn OKC its first win in the series in more than 1,000 days.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Hiroki Kurimoto, OKC Energy FC – Kurimoto’s brilliant late strike added to his earlier assist and was part of a performance that saw the midfielder complete 42 of 46 passes and make three interceptions defensively.

Scoring Summary
OKC
– Frank Lopez (Hiroki Kurimoto) 65’
TUL – Rodrigo da Costa 90+1’
OKC – Hiroki Kurimoto (Villyan Bijev) 90+6’

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