CONCACAF Champions Cup: Messi-Less Inter Miami Lose 2-1 To Monterrey In Quarter-Final 1st Leg

Lionel Messi Inter Miami
Lionel Messi Inter Miami

Playing without their talisman Lionel Messi, Inter Miami fell to a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup quarter-final clash with Monterrey at Chase Stadium on Wednesday night (April 3). Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s side looked out of sync in the final third and also afforded the visitors a lot of space. In the end, they were fortunate to escape with a narrow defeat, which keeps their hopes alive for next week’s (April 10) return leg.

Inter Miami Squander Lead After After David Ruiz’s Red Card

Having dropped five points in their last two matches, Inter Miami needed a good result in the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarter-final first leg to bring their season back on track. In the first half, the Herons made it look possible. They passed the ball around well, put bodies into the opposition half, and deservedly put their noses in front in the 19th minute. American right-winger Julian Gressel delivered a low in-swinging corner into the area, which landed at center-back Tomas Aviles’ feet. Instead of thinking too much and squandering the opportunity, Aviles poked it toward goal with his first touch and found the roof of the netting.

Monterrey improved in the latter stages of the first half but could not find a way back into the contest.

Inter Miami preserved their lead in the first quarter of the first half, but the game got away from them in the last 30 minutes. In the 60th minute, David Ruiz picked up a yellow card for a cynical foul on Maximiliano Meza. Five minutes later, Ruiz just threw his arm at Meza, despite not even challenging for the ball. The referee, who was in close vicinity, showed the Honduran midfielder a second yellow and sent him off.

Playing against 10 men, Monterrey almost immediately made their advantage count, equalizing through Meza in the 69th minute. The Argentine was lurking near the far post when Drake Callender’s weak parry found its way to him. With the goal at his mercy, the winger slotted it home to make it 1-1.

Inter Miami tightened their backline after conceding the equalizer. Their valiant efforts would have paid off had it not been for a howler from Diego Gomez in the 89th minute. The midfielder allowed the ball to get away from him while trying to play out from the back, allowing Meza to intercept it. The 31-year-old squared the ball to Jorge Rodriguez, who found the back of the net with an excellent curling effort.

Herons Have Yet To Learn To Perform Without Messi

Inter Miami captain Lionel Messi has not been in action since going off with a leg injury in the 3-1 win over Nashville in the CONCACAF Champions Cup Round of 16 second leg on March 14. The Argentine looked on from the stands on Wednesday as his team failed to win their third consecutive game in all competitions.

Since joining in July 2023, Messi has been Miami’s standout player. Vice City look like a team on a mission when the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is on the pitch and completely clueless without him. In the last eight months, Messi has played 19 games for Inter Miami. They have won 11, drawn six, and lost just twice. In the 12 games he has missed so far, Miami have won twice, drawn thrice, and lost seven. The over-reliance on the 36-year-old is hurting the Major League Soccer outfit, and Martino must find a solution sooner rather than later.

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