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Messi’s support beyond Nashville keeps Miami in the driver’s seat atop the MLS

Vaseline 1 month ago

Lionel Messi scored twice and assisted Sergio Busquets for another goal as Inter Miami defeated Nashville 3-1 on Saturday to maintain their lead in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

Miami suffered an early setback when defender Franco Negri accidentally redirected Daniel Lovitz’s corner kick into its own goal in the second minute at Chase Stadium.

Gerardo Martino’s team has now played eleven games without a clean sheet. Their luck almost changed when Josh Bauer hit the crossbar just three minutes later.

However, Messi soon equalized for Miami. After being released by a smart move by Diego Gomez, his first shot was parried by Nashville keeper Elliot Panicco. Luis Suarez sent the loose ball back to Messi, who made it 1-1 in the eleventh minute.

Two minutes later, Messi took advantage of Nashville’s sloppy play, but his low right-foot shot hit the post.

Miami’s attacks came mainly through Messi, who shot wide before delivering a cross to Gomez’s header, saved by the feet of Panicco.

Six minutes before half-time, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Busquets scored his first goal in MLS, meeting the World Cup winner’s corner with a header at the near post.

However, Miami suffered a setback just before half-time when Paraguayan international Gomez was stretchered off with an ankle injury, adding to the string of injuries.

His replacement, Brazilian-born youngster Leonardo Afonso, had a goal disallowed for offside.

Nashville came out strongly after the break, but despite dominating possession for the first twenty minutes, they had little to show for their efforts other than a few long range shots off target from German Hany Mukhtar.

Nine minutes from the end, Miami sealed the match when Afonso was brought down by Bauer in the penalty area and Messi converted the penalty.

The goal was Messi’s ninth in as many games in all competitions for Miami this season.

Martino expressed his dissatisfaction with his team’s slow start. “As happy as their goal was, we didn’t start well in the first minutes. They were more focused, more intense, they handled the ball better, they pressed,” he said.

“There are a lot of things we need to correct, but I would like to do it with the full squad. We have seven or eight players out, which is a lot in a league as strict as MLS, with roster and budget issues .” he added.

Miami has 18 points from its first 10 games and Martino said that was a decent return considering the depleted squad he is working with.

“This happened to all of us and we still collected 18 points, which is significantly more than last year at this stage. We will now try to collect points so that the second part of the year is not as demanding and dramatic as last year. year,” he said, referring to the ill-fated late chase for a play-off spot.

In other MLS action on Saturday, champion Columbus Crew had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw against Phil Neville’s Portland Timbers.

The equalizer came in the 74th minute via a beautiful long-range shot from French full-back Steven Moreira.

Last season’s top teams, Cincinnati, recorded an impressive 2-1 victory at Atlanta United, despite going behind to a beautiful, curling shot from Argentine midfielder Thiago Almada in the 59th minute.

The lead lasted just three minutes when reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Luciano Acosta led Cincinnati on a counterattack to level compatriot Luca Orellano.

Acosta completed a crazy five minutes when he grabbed the winner, tapping in after DeAndre Yedlin picked him off.