Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi rally Inter Miami for a 2-2 tie with Nashville

Thu, Mar 7, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi rally Inter Miami for a 2-2 tie with Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Luis Suarez scored in stoppage time and Lionel Messi also scored after halftime to help Inter Miami tie Nashville 2-2 Thursday night in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

The teams will meet Wednesday night in Miami for the second part of the home-and-home portion of the round of 16.

Suarez tied it up by scoring in the fifth minute of stoppage time with a header off a cross from former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets. Messi got Inter Miami on the board with his first CONCACAF goal in the 52nd minute.

Jacob Shaffelburg scored in the fourth minute, then again in the 47th minute after halftime to put Nashville up 2-0. Nashville thought it had a 3-1 lead when Shaq Moore scored in the 83rd minute, only to have the goal waived off for being offside.

All eyes were on Messi.

Once the match was set last week, ticket prices seemed ready to soar, similar to Messi's first visit to Nashville last August in the Leagues Cup final. Tickets remained available Thursday, though pink Messi jerseys dotted GEODIS Park. Fans also chanted the name of the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner repeatedly.

Messi scored in regulation and converted the first shot in penalty kicks the last time these teams played here. He had to be a bit more patient Thursday night.

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He missed in the 13th minute trying to bend the ball just inside the left edge of the goal from the middle of the box with his left-footed kick going just wide left. Messi appeared to ask himself how he didn't score. Nashville keeper Joe Willis stopped Messi's shot off his right foot in the 37th minute from the box.

A penalty gave Messi a chance just before halftime in stoppage time, but his kick out of a set piece went into Nashville's wall. Julian Gressel tried to chase down the ball and got his right foot on the ball, only to see Willis smother the shot as the half expired.

Shaffelburg put Nashville up 1-0 in the fourth minute, scoring over Drake Callender off a pass from Moore, tucking the ball under the crossbar before going to his knees celebrating the early lead. Shaffelburg scored from the left side off a pass from Sean Davis for a 2-0 lead.

That didn't last long as Messi finally did what everyone expected to happen at some point.

Suarez found his former Barcelona teammate Messi just outside the box. Messi used his left foot to squeeze the ball between Willis' outstretched right fingers and inside the left post in the 52nd minute to pull Miami within 2-1.

Messi had a bit of a scare late in regulation when Nashville defender Lukas Macnaughton stepped on his left calf. A trainer checked on Messi, who remained on the pitch.

Before the match, Nashville announced a contract extension with German midfielder Hany Mukhtar to keep the 2022 MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner with the club through 2026. Nashville also has an option for 2027 for the two-time All-Star who is the club's all-time leader in goals, assists and points.

Callendar made a nice stop on a Mukhtar shot at the post in the 23rd minute.

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AP MLS: https://apnews.com/hub/major-league-soccer

TERESA M. WALKER Walker covers sports in Tennessee for The Associated Press, including college sports and the NFL's Titans, the NBA's Grizzlies and the NHL's Predators. twitter mailto "
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