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Timbers take advantage, win on penalty kicks

Alcaraz-Cuellar leads Portland over Coventry City

The Portland Timbers took advantage of Coventry City's mistakes Saturday night and beat the visiting English soccer team on penalty kicks.

It was only an exhibition match, and Coventry is just beginning its preseason, and is trying to revamp its team with the likes of seven new players. But the victory was significant to the Timbers.

'It means a lot to the players,' said Chris Agnello, Portland's coach and general manager.

Coventry, which plays in the second tier of English soccer, in the Coca-Cola Championship League, scored in the eighth minute. Striker Jay Tabb getting a gentle header feed from Dele Adebola and beating Portland's Josh Saunders from close range.

The Timbers' back line, which has been beset by injuries midway through the United Soccer Leagues season, gradually began to settle down after that. Portland's attack was never a big threat, but the Timbers got the break they needed when the Sky Blues were called for a hand ball on Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar's corner kick. In the 67th minute, Alcaraz-Cuellar confidently moved in to take the penalty kick and knocked it into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Neither side managed much of an attack the rest of the way on a warm night at PGE Park; Coventry played the final five minutes a man short after receiving a red card. The teams had agreed before the match that, in case of a tie, they would go directly to penalty kicks.

Each team made its first three, but then Coventry's David McNamee slammed his try off the crossbar. Byron Alvarez converted for Portland to make it 4-3, and when Claus Jorgensen missed wide right for Coventry, it was over.

Portland's other penalty-kick scores came from Alcaraz-Cuellar, Tom Poltl and Alejandro Gutierrez, in that order.

The victory was the Timbers' first over an English team since 1979, when Portland beat Bristol City 2-1. The Timbers lost 1-0 to Manchester United in 1980 and 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion in 1981. This was Portland's second match against an English squad since the Timbers' rebirth in 2001; last year, Portland and Sunderland called it a draw after 90 scoreless minutes.

The announced crowd on Saturday was 10,985. The Sunderland match drew 15,376.

Coventry's two-game American tour concludes with a Tuesday match in Provo, Utah, against Brigham Young University.

Portland plays at league rival Charleston on Wednesday in the third-round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers also play a league game at Charleston on Friday, then travel to Atlanta for a Saturday match. Their next home game is July 21 against Seattle.