With a chance to effectively kill off a rivals’ playoff hopes Wednesday night, Ronny Deila arrived to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. dressed in all black.
At least for another match, that funeral will have to wait.
After a comfy first three-quarters of the match, NYCFC were eventually undone by a straight red card to midfielder Keaton Parks — the club’s fourth dismissal in five matches — in the 73rd minute. The decision forced the home side to finally impose themselves on the match, and they were thrown a final lifeline when the referee awarded a handball penalty via VAR in the 12th minute of second-half stoppage time.
Patryk Klimala scored from the spot — effectively the last kick of the game — to make the game 1-1, and the Red Bulls went on to rescue a point from their first of two meetings with New York City this week.
“I think we deserve this point,” Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber said after the match. “In the end we find more control … in the end [it] was overload in the brain for New York City.”
Prior to Parks’ high challenge, NYCFC looked firmly in control, wholly competent at least within the chippy confines of a derby match. For much of the match, the Red Bulls struggled to create good looks and often opted to play it safe with long balls over the top, while the two best chances of the match — including Taty Castellanos’ first-half goal — fell to New York City.
The other chance — a close-range shot by Anton Tinnerholm that was saved — left the defender to react with his shirt over his eyes, while his coach Ronny Deila put his head in his hands. His rueful feeling after a missed chance at three points was none too different.
“We did every phase in the game, really, really good,” Deila said. “In my opinion it was an almost perfect away game, and we should’ve got the three points.”
The Norwegian manager also called the red card decision on Parks “very, very soft”, but rejected the notion that the team panicked or dropped in level when forced to play a man down.
“I think we adapted really, really well to this situation,” he said.
A second red card on the night (Klimala’s penalty was preceded by a second yellow on Maxime Chanot) was too much to overcome, and now both teams have another crack to break the stalemate on Saturday.
Deila isn’t going to hang his head for too long.
“We can find mistakes,” he said, “but I’m proud of the team.