A first-half brace by Ezequiel Barco helped Atlanta United end their 12-match winless streak, defeating the Columbus Crew 3-2 at Lower.com Field on Saturday evening.
Marcelino Moreno added a goal from the penalty spot as Atlanta won their first league match away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in over 10 months. Columbus has allowed a total of 11 goals during their losing skid.
The visitors drew first blood in the 5th minute through a well-executed buildup, which ended with Barco accepting a backheel pass from George Bello and knocking it past Eloy Room to put Atlanta ahead early.
The Crew nearly conceded again just after the 25th-minute mark on an Atlanta corner routine, but Darlington Nagbe delivered a goal-line clearance to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
In the 34th minute, Moreno was tripped up by Marlon Hairston in the scoring area, leading referee Allen Chapman to promptly point to the spot. Barco was called on to take take the penalty kick and did so perfectly to give himself a first-half brace and the Five Stripes a 2-0 lead.
But Columbus answered back not long after when Mensah got just enough of Lucas Zelarayan's corner kick to head it past Brad Guzan to make it a 2-1 contest in the 37th minute. The Ghanaian center back had given Columbus a 1-0 win at Atlanta back on July 24 with another corner-kick header.
In the 48th minute, Luis Diaz appeared to have leveled the match as he broke in on goal to seemingly make it 2-2 but was ultimately ruled offside. Video Review confirmed the call on the field as Atlanta maintained their advantage.
It seemed to awaken Atlanta as Barco looked to complete his hat trick with a blistering shot from outside the area, but Room came up with a terrific save. Then, with around 25 minutes to go, Moreno drew his second penalty of the evening and this time, the Argentinian took it himself and caught Room guessing the wrong way to make it a 3-1 Atlanta lead.
The Crew looked as if they had cut it to 3-2 as Derrick Etienne Jr.'s strike inside the box from a flicked header by Mensah made it past Guzan, but Video Review saw a second Columbus goal disallowed as Etienne was ruled to have been in an offside position.
But, in the first minute of stoppage time, Pedro Santos made good on his own kick from the spot to make it a 3-2 match. The Crew, though, couldn't come up with the equalizer as Atlanta held for a long-awaited victory.
The Black & Gold return on Sunday, August 15 against Chicago Fire FC from Soldier Field. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. ET.