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Messi, Suarez score twice, Inter Miami routs Orlando City 5-0

Sat, Mar 2, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Messi, Suarez score twice, Inter Miami routs Orlando City 5-0

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored two goals each and Inter Miami routed Orlando City 5-0 Saturday.

Messi had consecutive goals during a quick span early in the second half.

The 37-year-old Suarez became the latest ex-Barcelona teammate to join Messi at Inter Miami and made an immediate impact in his third MLS match. The pair played together for six years at Barcelona. Suarez also had two assists.

With a prolific career that has resulted in 381 club goals over 19 seasons, Suarez scored his first two in MLS within a seven-minute sequence early in the first half.

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Robert Taylor scored the fifth goal for Inter Miami (2-0-1, 7 points), which is unbeaten for the first time through its first three games in club history. Orlando City dropped to 0-1-1.

Inter Miami fans were barely settling in when Suarez struck four minutes into the match. Messi initiated the strike as his long pass found an open Julian Gressel on the right wing. Gressel then centered to an open Suarez, who one-timed a shot inside the right post.

The combination of Gressel and Suarez clicked again seven minutes later. From the left wing, Gressel sent another crossing pass to Suarez. Suarez beat defender Wilder Cartagena to the ball, dribbled into the large area and converted past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese from 12 yards.

Suarez turned distributor for Taylor's goal in the 29th minute. Suarez's cross from the right wing found an open Taylor against an unsuccessful offside trap by the Orlando City backline. Taylor tapped in a 15-yard shot.

Messi joined the scoring onslaught with his first goal in the 57th minute. Suarez's shot deflected off the crossbar and an unmarked Messi easily tapped in the shot inches from the goal line.

Suarez's centering pass from the left wing found an open Messi, whose header in the 62nd minute closed the scoring.

Tensions escalated when Suarez exchanged words with Orlando players as they walked off the field for the halftime break.

Saturday began a month of seven matches for Inter Miami while Argentina also has called Messi for two exhibitions during a four-day stretch later in March.

Inter Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino said Friday that Messi's playing time will be carefully monitored.

In addition to five league matches, Inter Miami will face Nashville SC in a home-and-home set of the CONCACAF Nations Cup round of 16. Argentina will play El Salvador on March 22 and Costa Rica on March 26 as precursors to Copa America later this summer.

Shortly before Saturday's kickoff, Jaime Herrera replaced Guiherme Ceretta as center referee after photos of Ceretta on social media created a possible conflict of interest.

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

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