Injury doesn’t hold Lionel Messi back from securing a goal before departing which leads to 3-1

Lionel Messi leaves the field early due to an injury while leading Inter Miami to the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal.


In the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup round-of-16 match on Wednesday, March 13, at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Inter Miami defeated Nashville 3-1. Lionel Messi scored one goal and assisted on another before leaving the game due to a leg injury.


Messi assisted his old Barcelona colleague Luis Suarez, who started the score in the eighth minute, and the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner added a goal in the 23rd minute to give Inter Miami an early 2-0 lead.


Injury doesn't hold Lionel Messi back from securing a goal before departing.
Lionel Messi (AFP Photo)


Nevertheless, the Argentine sensation was forced to exit the game in the fiftyth minute. During the game, Coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino confirmed that Messi was taken off the field due to a minor leg injury.


Messi, who also scored in the first leg’s 2-2 draw last week, rested for Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Montreal, his only missed game of the season. According to Martino, Messi will likely miss Saturday’s MLS encounter against D.C. United.


The magic began early in the game when Messi, in a typical manner, produced a magnificent assist to his old Barcelona teammate Luis Suárez, laying the groundwork for Inter Miami’s dominance.


With his vision and precision, Messi provided the critical pass that led to Suárez’s goal, exciting the fans and giving his team an early lead.


Inter Miami team secured a goal
Representational image. AFP

The chase for the cup continues.


Not content with generating goals, Messi demonstrated his scoring ability by reaching the back of the net, extending Inter Miami’s lead, and establishing his impact in the game. However, his ecstatic performance was cut short when he was forced to leave the field in the 50th minute owing to a niggling leg injury.


Coach Gerardo Tata Martino was cautious about Messi’s injury, prioritizing his star player’s long-term health over immediate concerns. Despite resting during a previous encounter against Montreal, Messi’s injury flared up during the game against Nashville, forcing Martino to err on the side of caution and sideline him from action.


In Messi’s absence, Robert Taylor performed excellently, scoring on his own to seal Inter Miami’s victory and advance them to the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals. Despite the setback, Martino is confident about Messi’s recovery, emphasizing the importance of careful investigation and testing before determining his return to action.


Reflecting on Messi’s impressive performance, Nashville coach Gary Smith praised the Argentine maestro’s early dominance on the field, recognizing his unequaled impact on the game. Smith sarcastically expressed satisfaction at Messi’s departure, acknowledging the huge challenge given by his presence on the pitch.


“I don’t want to risk it,” Martino stated. He stated that Messi would be tested, and the squad would decide based on those results. Robert Taylor took over for Messi on Wednesday and scored in the 63rd minute to give Inter Miami a 3-0 lead.


Inter Miami advanced to the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals with a 5-3 aggregate victory. The clubs were tied in the first leg in Nashville last Friday (March 8). Messi cut the deficit, and Suarez netted the equalizer in stoppage time to help Miami rally from 0-2 down to a 2-2 draw at Geodis Park in Nashville. Messi went down late in regulation time of the game after Nashville defender Lukas Macnaughton trod on his left calf, causing medics to check on Messi.


That event prompted him to be listed as questionable with a shin injury for Sunday’s game against Montreal, but Martino stated afterward that the idea had always been to rest Messi for that game.


The rest seemed to point to Messi’s strong performance on Wednesday, as he made an immediate impact. Four minutes into the match, he received a free kick for a foul by Nashville’s Aníbal Godoy, but his shot was blocked.


A few minutes later, the 36-year-old took advantage of his opportunity, passing to a running Suarez, who finished in the bottom right corner of the net.


Messi scored from within the penalty area after receiving a feed from Diego Gomez, prompting fans to sing his name. Taylor later scored with a header off an assist from Suarez.


Representational image. AFP

Late in the second half, Hany Mukhtar broke through Miami’s defense and found the back of the net, giving Nashville a chance. After a lengthy review, officials reversed the goal and determined that Mukhtar was offside.


Following a dismal showing against Montreal, Miami goalie Drake Callender made two saves before giving up a goal to Sam Surridge in stoppage time.


The meeting on Wednesday (March 13) was Nashville’s fourth against Messi since he joined Inter Miami and MLS last summer. Previously, they had three draws, including a shootout victory in the 2023 League Cup final.


Messi and Inter Miami will face FC Cincinnati or Monterrey in the two-legged CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal on April 2 and 9.


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