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Becks' Returns To Help Gals Bash Red Bulls

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --David Beckham made his MLS return in style as Los Angeles beat New York 3-1 at Giants Stadium.

While Beckham registered a tidy and anonymous performance in his 70 minutes in central midfield, his teammates sparkled in front of goal. Alecko Eskandarian's third-minute strike set the Galaxy on its way. Landon Donovan's volley and Eddie Lewis' first-time effort capped off a trio of fine goals before halftime.

New York grabbed a late consolation goal after Omar Gonzalez's handball allowed Juan Pablo Angel to score from the spot. Angel then had a second penalty saved in second half stoppage time as the Red Bulls capped off a disappointing night in prophetic fashion.

First Half

The rout started after just three minutes. Eskandarian opened the scoring by looping the ball over Red Bulls central midfielder Albert Celades and volleying home into the near side of the net from 25 yards. It was a well taken strike that foreshadowed the ease with which Los Angeles would slice through the New York defense in the opening half.

New York tried to engineer a reply, but struggled to find its rhythm aside from the occasional half-chance. Juan Pablo Angel – once again starved of service – fired a sharp angled shot that Donovan Ricketts bundled around the post before Jorge Rojas sent his quick free kick off the Galaxy wall.

On the other end, the Galaxy looked dangerous on the break and exposed the home side's frail rearguard. Mike Petke's lunging intervention cleared away Landon Donovan's cross after Alfredo Pacheco's mistake allowed him behind the New York defense.

By that point, it was a matter of when rather than if the Galaxy would extend its lead. Donovan provided that answer on 31 minutes after Beckham's corner kick was only partially cleared and the ball squirted loose to the American international. Donovan capped a ragged play with an elegant volley from 25 yards to double the advantage.

Beckham then stepped up minutes later for a free kick 30 yards from goal. The lightbulbs flashing throughout Giants Stadium expected more of a payoff than the attempt Beckham directed straight into the Red Bulls' wall.  

New York would have pulled one back three minutes before the break but for Ricketts' intervention. Seth Stammler's diagonal shot elicited a diving save from the Jamaican stopper and the former Bradford City player hopped up in time to block aside Rojas' follow-up effort.

Lewis put the match beyond doubt in first-half stoppage time after Donovan was allowed far too much space on the right side and fed the ball to far post. Lewis struck it first time to the far post past the hesitant Danny Cepero to cap off a miserable 45 minutes for the home side.

Second Half

With the match all but decided in the first half, the second stanza proved less entertaining for the neutrals as Los Angeles didn't reach the heights it did in the opening half and New York put more energy into defending effectively. The result was a damp squib with few chances for either side until the closing stages.

Rojas tested Ricketts again five minutes after play resumed with a volley at the near post, but the Jamaican once again proved up to the task.

Los Angeles ventured forward occasionally and nearly grabbed its fourth on 69 minutes when Edson Buddle made a diagonal run down the right side. Cepero parried the effort away at the near post.

Galaxy manager Bruce Arena sent Chris Birchall on for his debut in place of Beckham with 20 minutes to play, allowing the England international to bask in the boos as he left the field.

New York grabbed a consolation goal with three minutes to play. Omar Gonzalez handled in the penalty area with the referee pointing to the spot even though John Wolyniec directed his effort home. It made no difference as Angel stepped up to dispatch the penalty into the lower-left hand corner.

Angel had yet another chance to score from the spot when Gonzalez handled yet again as he jumped for a header as the match entered stoppage time. Angel decided to direct his effort to the right side on this occasion and Ricketts dove to his left and pushed the effort onto the post.

Kyle McCarthy, Goal.com

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