Atlanta United's Jamal Thiaré bamboozles goalkeeper for sneaky game-winning goal in stoppage time

Atlanta United forward Jamal Thiaré, second from left, and forward Tyler Wolff, third from left, celebrate after the winning goal as Toronto FC midfielder Kosi Thompson, left, and goalkeeper Luka Gavran, right, react during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, June 29, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Stealth rarely pays off in soccer, but it worked for Jamal Thiaré and Atlanta United on Saturday. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Through stealth and trickery, Jamal Thiaré became a hero for Atlanta United on Saturday.

With the game tied in stoppage time against Toronto FC, Thiaré scored an out-of-nowhere goal to give his team a 2-1 win. Further replay showed what happened.

Thiaré had wandered behind the goal to playfully drink from Toronto goalkeeper Luka Gavran's water bottle after an Atlanta scoring opportunity. Gavran didn't notice the move, or the Senegalese striker following him as he walked away from the goal with the ball.

As Gavran rolled the ball forward to clear it, Thiaré burst forward to steal it and score the game-winner.

Not a single Toronto player on camera was looking back to warn Gavran of his shadow.

"Exactly how we wanted it," Atlanta interim head coach Rob Valentino joked after the game. "I would say I'm on the younger side of coaching and on the younger side of being in the game, but I have never seen anything like that."

Thiaré is in his first season with Atlanta United after five years with French club Le Havre.

The win was much needed for Atlanta, which now holds a 6-6-8 record amid a disappointing season that has already seen them fire head coach Gonzalo Pineda. It currently sits ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Nashville SC for the final guaranteed spot in the first-round of the MLS Cup playoffs.