All it took was two consecutive plays Sunday night to erase 66 minutes of futility for the Union.

First it was Keegan Rosenberry sending in a cross to Chris Pontius who was taken down in the box and C.J. Sapong scored on the ensuing penalty kick.

Then it was Fabian Herbers sending in a similar cross a minute later. Charging toward the back post was Pontius, and this time he wasn't dragged down. He tapped the ball into the goal with no one in front of him.

Two goals. Two minutes. Tie game.

Back-to-back goals in the 67th and 68th minutes helped the Union salvage a 2-2 tie against the rival New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium. The result allowed the Union (8-6-6) to remain in second place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference and keep the feisty Red Bulls (8-9-4) in third.

"A point is still a good result," Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said. "This is a good team at home. But it doesn't feel like that. It feels like a loss."

The Red Bulls had been dominating all game and Sacha Kljestan already had two goals to his name. Sapong had only nine touches in the first half.

In the 26th minute, Kljestan made a run down the left side of the field as Bradley Wright-Phillips dribbled the ball and attracted the Union's defensive attention above the penalty box. Wright-Phillips made a crisp pass to Kljestan, who charged into the box and coolly slipped a shot past goalkeeper Andre Blake.

In the 44th minute, Kljestan scored off a free kick that was deflected by the Union's Tranquillo Barnetta.

"I thought that the first half was a little strange," Union coach Jim Curtin said.

The second half, though, was a different story. The Union peppered the net with shot after shot once Herbers entered in the 63rd minute and provided a spark.

The Union began pressing up the field and dictating the tempo once Herbers came on.

About three weeks ago, the Union came back from a one-goal deficit to knock the Red Bulls out of the U.S. Open Cup, 2-1. Sunday provided a similar script.

"We don't quit," Curtin said. ". . . We don't stop pressing."

Herbers knew the Union needed offensive players to create havoc with off-ball movement. He was on the receiving end of several passes from Rosenberry. The tying goal was of a similar kind.

And once the first went in, the second came shortly after.

"The first goal, it's got to come at some point," Herbers said. "It's important to have the icebreaker. . . . You just have a different emotion. And then the second can come, the third can come."

Down a player once Ilsinho received a red card in the 72nd minute, the Union kept their foot on the gas. Beginning with Sapong's goal, the Union took six shots on goal, compared with just two in the first 66 minutes.

And while the third goal never came, the Union did what they needed to avoid a loss.

pschwedelson@philly.com