NYCFC advances out of knockout round with 3-1 victory

              New York City FC defender Maxime Chanot, bottom, plays the ball against Philadelphia Union forward Fafa Picault during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

NEW YORK (AP) — Maximiliano Moralez had two big assists on first-half goals and added a score of his own in the second half to help NYCFC advance out of the MLS knockout round with a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and David Villa scored first-half goals and NYCFC moved forward to play second-seeded Atlanta United in a two-game Eastern Conference semifinal series, with the first game scheduled for Sunday in New York.

In the 10th minute, Moralez sent a pass forward that Villa flicked off his heel to Tajouri-Shradi, who turned it into a 22-yard line drive into the upper left-hand corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

On a counterattack following a turnover, Ronald Matarrita passed to Moralez charging down the left side. Moralez sent the ball to Villa, who slotted in his team-leading 15th goal of the season from just outside the penalty area in the 26th.

Moralez made it 3-0 in the 78th when he ran on to a long ball from Anton Tinnerholm and lobbed it over charging Union goalie Andre Blake from 12 yards.

Philadelphia avoided the shutout when Ilsinho sent a short pass into the middle of the 6-yard box for an easy goal by Cory Burke in the 83th.

NYCFC beat Philadelphia on the final day of the regular season Sunday, also by a 3-1 score.