New York City FC went into this second of three Hudson River Derby engagements of 2017 with the opportunity to seal a first-ever series win over their rivals.
A raucous sold out Yankee Stadium played host for a game which was full of intensity from the first whistle which bled in from the stands to the Etihad Pitch.
A flurry of chances fell NYCFC’s way in the early minutes, with Yangel Herrera working Luis Robles on 2’ with a snapshot from an acute angle, before Villa got his first sight of goal on 9’, breaking clear but his strike as he fell backwards was saved by the Red Bulls ‘keeper.
Jesse Marsch had clearly sent out his team to be physical but they overstepped the mark more than once early on, with Dani Royer perhaps fortunate to only receive a yellow card for a poor challenge on Maxi Moralez.
In the 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena, NYCFC had sought to eradicate the Red Bulls press by playing longer than usual to bypass it and that approach was utilized once again here to try and draw the sting from a visiting side who had won their last four.
On his second start, Jonathan Lewis was next to go close on 25’ when he burst into the area in behind the defense and prodded the ball past Robles but a defender was on hand to clear off the line.
Two minutes later, NYCFC were ahead and it was the captain who scored it after he found himself with a third of the field to himself, running on and rounding Robles before sliding in his 15th goal of the season.
Smelling blood, Vieira’s men pressed on and had chances to double their lead but it was the visitors who scored the game’s second goal through Wright-Phillips on 41’ as the Englishman beat Sean Johnson with a daisycutter to the bottom corner.
That goal just before halftime carried them into the second half full of confidence and they would have taken the lead if not for a valiant double block from the captain after a corner pinballed around the box.
Khiry Shelton made his long-awaited return on 57’, replacing Lewis, as Vieira went to introduce some more physicality to his frontline but Red Bulls seized the advantage four minutes later, taking the lead through a second goal by Wright-Phillips.
Again, it was a ball in from wide which NYCFC failed to clear and Wright-Phillips was there on the penalty spot to slide home to make it 1-2.
Ugo Okoli was introduced from the bench immediately after and he was straight into the action, providing an opportunity for Villa with an excellent cut-back, forcing Robles into a fine save down to his left.
That proved to be a warning shot as a couple of minutes later NYCFC equalized through a stunning solo goal from Villa, who skipped and slalomed through a wave of challenges before slamming it home at the near post.
Just 60 seconds later, NYCFC retook the lead and it was Villa again who scored his first hat-trick for the club, converting the penalty after Sal Zizzo’s foul on the captain.
Zizzo’s night would get worse as he was sent-off in the dying minutes of the game, helping the home side held out for a famous victory.