Elias Manoel scored a hat-trick as the New York Red Bulls defeated Charlotte FC 5-2 to advance to the first round of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference playoffs on Wednesday.
Brazilian forward Manoel struck in the 10th and 37th minutes either side of a superb free-kick by defender John Tolkin to set New York on the road to victory at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
The Red Bulls will now face Eastern Conference top seeds Cincinnati in a best-of-three first round series, with game one set for Sunday.
Manoel fired the Red Bulls into the lead early on, chesting down a lofted pass from Daniel Edelman before shooting low into the corner.
Tolkin then added a brilliant second on 26 minutes, curling a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Good work from Tolkin then set up the Red Bulls’ third goal, with the fullback bombing down the left flank and picking out Manoel in the penalty area.
The Brazilian coolly curled his shot up and over Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina for 3-0.
Charlotte raised hopes of a fightback early in the second half when Kerwin Vargas’s overhead kick made it 3-1 on 49 minutes.
But Tolkin then set up another goal with an assist for Tom Barlow to make it 4-1 on 56 minutes and restore New York’s three-goal lead.
Substitute Patrick Agyemang pulled a goal back for Charlotte in the 64th minute but Manoel completed his hat-trick with a fine individual effort in the 78th minute to complete the scoring.