The Columbus Crew kept its Audi MLS Cup Playoffs hopes alive with a 3-1 victory over D.C. United at Audi Field on Saturday night, powered by a brace from Lucas Zelarayan.

D.C. got an early opener from Paul Arriola that put the Black-and-Red in position to end Columbus' postseason aspirations, which they could have accomplished with a win or draw. Instead, the Crew struck for three unanswered tallies, two of which were scored by their Argentine maestro.

D.C. United jumped on top just three minutes into the match in spectacular fashion through Arriola. The US international ran onto an over-the-top ball from Felipe and unleashed a scorching first-time volley to the far post that gave Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room no chance.

But the Crew equalized just before the halftime whistle through a penalty kick that was both won and converted by Zelarayan. The Designated Player first coaxed Tony Alfaro into a foul in the D.C. penalty box, then sent Bill Hamid the wrong way from the spot and coolly slotted home the leveler.

Knowing its playoff hopes were in the balance, the Crew came out firing to start the second half, with two near-misses at a go-ahead goal just after the restart. The first came off the head of Liam Fraser, who forced Hamid into a diving save with a flicked header off Zelarayan's pinpoint free-kick. Pedro Santos then went inches from a spectacular golazo shortly after with a scorching shot from distance that rattled the crossbar.

Santos found the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute, finishing off a transition opportunity started by a feed from Darlington Nagbe. The winger charged into acres of space after Andy Najar missed his attempt to intercept the pass, then snuck his chipped shot past Hamid and into the net.

The Crew sunk the dagger 10 minutes later after a giveaway from Donovan Pines allowed Miguel Berry to set Zelarayan up with a first-time shot from outside the box, which he cashed home with a highlight-reel curling strike.

Up next, the Crew returns home on Sunday, November 7 to host Chicago Fire FC in the regular-season finale. | TICKETS AVAILABLE

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