Pacific FC overcame a calamitous defensive collapse in the first 15 minutes, allowing two goals, before rallying for a 4-2 Canadian Premier League victory Wednesday night over Atlético Ottawa in the Winnipeg bubble at IG Stadium.
Alejandro Diaz scored the natural hat-trick to make it 3-2 to become only the second player to record three goals in a game in the three-year history of the CPL. The crafty Marco Bustos contributed to all three of Diaz’s goals. The six-time Canada-capped midfielder Bustos was brutally felled in the box and Diaz, the former Club America pro and Mexico U-20 and U-23 player, converted the penalty at 35 minutes. An artfully-executed set-piece corner kick by Bustos found Diaz for a header to tie it at 52 minutes. Bustos hit the post and Diaz buried the rebound at 55 minutes for the winning goal.
“We’re feeling more comfortable together,” said Diaz.
Terran Campbell, showing the form of his terrific rookie season in 2019, took a deep baseline cross from Dutch-import Gianni dos Santos off his left foot to put it away at 74 minutes.
PFC (4-2-2) was greatly aided by Atlético Ottawa (2-5-1), owned by Spanish giant Atlético Madrid, going down to 10 men after taking the early lead.
PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah was not on the bench after drawing a one-game suspension for being assessed two yellow cards in the previous 2-1 loss to Forge FC on Saturday. The Island club was guided by assistant coach James Merriman.
In a strange twist considering what happened to Kah, Atlético Ottawa head coach Mista, a former Valencia pro and Spain-capped player, was red carded against PFC.
“It was a tough game with two goals against us but we showed character,” said Diaz.
“We didn’t stop pressing. It’s going to be a great flight home.”
It was the final of eight games in the Winnipeg bubble for PFC, which returns to the Island today to prepare to meet Cavalry FC of Calgary on July 30 at Starlight Stadium.