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Gustavo Bou strike powers New England Revolution past Chicago Fire 2-1

The Revs could have slipped as far down as 10th place with a loss. The win keeps them in sixth.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Gustavo Bou came, saw and conquered Saturday night in his first taste of the New England Revolution‘s longtime rivalry with the Chicago Fire.

Bou netted the game-winner and extended his scoring streak to three games in the 86th minute of a 2-1 victory over the Fire in front of an announced crowd of 16,236 at Gillette Stadium.

The play started innocuously but ended with a flourish.

First came Chicago’s Francisco Calvo giving possession away to Bou just outside the penalty area, then came Bou hitting a left-footed screamer from 20 yards out that flew into the net past a helpless Kenneth Kronholm. Bou celebrated his fifth goal since joining the Revolution — a goal that could help return the Revolution to the playoffs for the first time since 2015 — by throwing off his shirt near the left corner flag.

“It was definitely an exciting moment with a few minutes left,” Bou told reporters after the game through a Spanish translator. “We knew we had to keep pushing to get the three points.

“It was a quick play…[I] put it to my left foot, didn’t think twice, looked up, hit the ball, and good thing for me it went in.”

Said Revolution coach Bruce Arena of Bou’s left-footed strike during the post-game press conference: “That’s his bad foot. You should see his good one.”

Bou’s slick finish aside, the 62nd all-time meeting between Chicago and New England had some teeth to it.

Fire midfielder Nicolas Gaitan got cautioned 26 seconds into the game for a shove on Luis Caicedo, and play mostly remained wide-open from start to finish.

Wilfried Zahibo opened the scoring for New England with his first goal of the season by tapping in Brandon Bye’s feed from the right flank in the 18th minute.

Chicago equalized just before halftime off Gaitan’s 41st-minute free kick, which beat New England’s back line and floated into the heart of the penalty area, where Calvo headed past goalkeeper Matt Turner.

The Fire, which played without Bastian Schweinsteiger (personal matter) and Aleksandar Katai (suspension), upped the pressure in the second half but couldn’t break down New England’s back line in the run of play.

Aug 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell (2) tries to pass the ball against the Chicago Fire during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

“I think we pushed until the end,” said Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic, whose team has just five games left in the regular season. “We had some opportunities, we prepared a lot from set pieces – this was our key before this game – we score from set pieces, some dangerous counter-attacks, but New England also played to win and pushed all its strikers up the field. I think it was an open game, both teams wanted to achieve the three points, and that’s it. Unfortunately they scored that second goal.

“It is what it is… We need to prepare for our next games,” Nikolic added. “We are still in it – but control is not in our hand – which is not good, but we will try to take the most from our next five games.

New England, which could have slipped as far down as 10th place if it had lost to Chicago, remains in sixth with seven games remaining in the regular season. It has two games in hand on Chicago, and one game in hand on the eight place Montreal Impact ahead of next Saturday’s match against seventh place Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium.

The Revolution have now lost just once in last 15 regular-season games and snapped a seven-game winless run against the Fire. The Revs’ last victory against their longtime rival came on July 23, 2016.

“Really the most important thing is we were able to get the three points,” Bou said. “Especially against a team that is fighting to get into the playoffs like we are.”

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