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Sporting Kansas City rallies to knock off Real Salt Lake 2-1 in final minutes

Sporting Kansas City won the Caution Cup as an Ike Opara header in the 97th minute sent Sporting KC home with three points against Real Salt Lake.

Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sport

The match was ugly but the ending was beautiful as Sporting Kansas City rallied back to beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The match was a brutally physical one from the get go. Seconds into the match Chris Wingert ran full steam into Kei Kamara, causing the latter to crumple up on the ground and earning the former a yellow card in the first minute. It would be the first of eight cards handed out in the match.

Two more Real Salt Lake players would end up with yellow cards in the first half: Luis Gill and Javier Morales. However no one would be able to beat the other team's keeper and the two teams went into the locker room tied at nil-nil.

The first goal of the match would come off the rare mistake from Jimmy Nielsen. A free kick went into the box and looked like it would be punched away by Nielsen but he mishandled the punch and it went straight up in the air, landing perfectly for Robbie Findley to head the mistake into the net for the game's first goal.

Ten minutes later Sporting would get a good chance to rally back in the match. Chris Wingert committed a foul on Soony Saad as the forward tried to advance down the line. Wingert would earn his second yellow card of the match, resulting in the ejection for Wingert. Real Salt Lake would be down to ten men for the rest of the match.

Sporting took advantage of the ejection immediately. Graham Zusi would send a ball into the box off of a set piece and would result in several missed opportunities as the ball was a pinball around the box. Finally Soony Saad turned on the ball near the post and fired it in for the equalizer. It was Saad's third goal in two games and also his third of the season. Suddenly it was a brand new ball game with Sporting holding a one-man advantage with 25 minutes to go.

Seven minutes later Sporting got some bad news regarding next week's game. Aurelien Collin went for a challenge down the line but earned a yellow card for the bad foul. The yellow card meant that Collin would be suspended for next week's bout with Montreal and, barring an upset in the Gold Cup, that Sporting would be without it's two starting center backs next week.

Benny Feilhaber would come on as a substitute in the later part of the second half and gave Sporting their best chance since the equalizer. In the 89th minute, Feilhaber would have the ball land at his feet in open space in the box. He took some time to get his footing straight before firing a rocket towards the far post. Unluckily for him and for Sporting KC, it was right at third-string keeper Jeff Attinella. The score stayed tied.

A flurry of chances in the five minutes of extra time were for naught until the sixth minute came along after a delay in the first couple of minutes. A corner kick from Graham Zusi found the head of Ike Opara who bulleted it in the net for the game-winning score. A cacophony of boos came down from the home fans as Sporting celebrated their victory, earning three points after a poor technical match.

Sporting moved to 10-5-6 on the year and pulled to within one point of Real Salt Lake in the Supporters Shield race and four points ahead of Montreal in the Eastern Conference. Sporting will take on the Impact next week in what could be one of the deciding matches in the Eastern Conference.