Denis Bouanga's hat trick leads LAFC to playoff-clinching win


Denis Bouanga's first-half hat trick fuels LAFC to victory

Denis Bouanga nets a hat trick in the first half of LAFC's win over Minnesota United FC.

Denis Bouanga scored three first-half goals to take over the MLS scoring lead and Los Angeles FC earned a playoff spot with a convincing 5-1 victory over visiting Minnesota United on Wednesday.

Bouanga scored in the sixth and 36th minutes as well as the first minute of first-half stoppage time as LAFC (13-10-9, 48 points) found the back of the goal for the first time in five matches across all competitions. It was the first first-half hat trick in the regular season in LAFC history.

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A Minnesota United own goal as well as a score from Filip Krastev in the second half allowed LAFC to earn a spot in the playoffs for the fifth time in the six years of the club's existence.

Hassani Dotson scored an early go-ahead goal for Minnesota United (9-12-11, 38 points), who saw their fading playoff hopes take a major blow.

Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau made one save for LAFC, while fellow Canadian Dayne St. Clair stopped 10 shots for Minnesota United. LAFC led 29-7 in shots and 14-2 in shots on goal.

Dotson gave the Loons an early 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when he scored on a header from close range after a deflection from Crepeau. It was Dotson's second of the season.

Bouanga got LAFC even two minutes later off a close-range pass from Mateusz Bogusz, then put his club in front for good at 2-1 in the 36th minute off a feed from Diego Palacios.

Bouanga's third came just before halftime when Minnesota United failed to clear an LAFC corner kick and the striker moved in from the right side and beat St. Clair on the short side.

Bouanga moved into the Golden Boot lead with 17 MLS goals. He has 30 across all competitions this season. It was also Bouanga's fourth hat trick of the season across all competitions.

Minnesota United's Miguel Tapias scored an own goal one minute into the second half when he deflected an LAFC centering pass into the back of the net. Krastev scored in the 67th minute, his first MLS goal in his seventh match.