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Thrice is Nice: Robbie Findley hit Real Salt Lake's first hat-trick in MLS play to lead his team to a 4-1 hammering of reigning champs Columbus Crew.

A sparse crowd of 11,806 witnessed a moment of history at Rio Tinto Stadium, as Real Salt Lake defeated the Columbus Crew 4-1. Taking place on a cold, wet Thursday night, the win was powered by a hat-trick from Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley.

First Half

Real Salt Lake opened the scoring early when Findley put in a rebound off of a powerful Will Johnson free kick from 25 yards out in the 2nd minute. The free kick was set up by a Crew foul on Findley’s forward companion, Yura Movsisyan.

From that point through the 25th minute, the play was open with a lot of possession in the final third for both teams. Columbus had a good chance in the 22nd minute when Gavin took a shot inside the right side of the box, but teammate Guillermo Barros Schelotto inadvertently stepped in front and blocked the attempt. Just two minutes later they managed to score from close to the same spot. A short corner was curved in by Gino Padula, and forward Jason Garey had the fortune of the ball bounding to his feet after deflecting off of RSL midfielder Clint Mathis’ head.

After the Crew goal, Real Salt Lake seemed to seize control of the match through the remainder of the half as they registered the majority of possession and the majority of chances on goal. In the 25th minute, Findley played a nice through-ball to Movsisyan, but his shot went off a defender for a corner kick.

Four minutes later Findley picked off an errant, low clearance from Hesmer, ran at the keeper, calmly sidestepped him and escorted the ball into the goal for his second goal on the night.

The remainder of the half would turn a bit chippy, with three yellow cards being picked up from the 40th minute on. The first was a reckless foul on Borchers, followed by a similar foul by Beckerman five minutes later. The half ended after Columbus picked up their first disciplinary action with a card to midfielder Emmanuel Ekpo for simulation.

Second Half

The second half was all Real Salt Lake as they created numerous chances, and the Crew scrambled to defend let alone create their own chances. The home side showed that they were not content on sitting on the one goal lead, and both Findley and Movsisyan had chances early in the half that sailed high over the goal.

In the 62nd minute, Findley made RSL history when he scored the team's first ever hat trick in league play. The goal came off of a cross from Movsisyan.  Findley was poorly marked on the play and got up high to drive the ball past Hesmer.

“That’s the first time I’ve done that since I was little,” an obviously excited Findley said referring to his historic hat trick.

Real still didn’t let up the attack and the scoring didn’t stop there, as captain Kyle Beckerman headed home a ball driven into the box by Mathis on a corner kick.  

All-in-all RSL dominated play, and dominated the scoring.  This was not only reflected in the final score but in the 17 to 8 shot margin that the home team enjoyed.

Schelotto did have some of his creative moments in the match, and helped to create some danger, but the team was unable to convert those chances. The Crew appeared to miss Frankie Hejduk, who was unavailable due to his play with the U.S. national team.  In addition, Robbie Rogers looked to be in poor form despite starting the game after returning from a hamstring injury.

Real Salt Lake picked up their first points of the season and gets to rest this weekend before facing D.C. United at home next week. Columbus continues Westward facing Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Sunday, after managing two draws in three games this season.

Randy Davis is a regular contributor to Goal.com

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