Messi scores another as Inter Miami eases into semifinals | Inquirer Sports

Messi scores another as Inter Miami eases into semifinals

/ 12:28 PM August 12, 2023

Lionel Messi Inter Miami

Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami CF celebrates his goal with DeAndre Yedlin #2 in the second half during the Leagues Cup 2023 quarterfinals match between Charlotte FC and Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on August 11, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hector Vivas/Getty Images/AFP

Lionel Messi made it eight goals in five games for Inter Miami as they eased into the semifinals of the Leagues Cup with a 4-0 win over Charlotte FC on Friday.

The Argentine slotted in Miami’s fourth goal in the 86th minute of what was a relatively routine victory for Gerardo Martino’s team.

Miami will travel north to face the Philadelphia Union for Tuesday’s semifinal after they beat Mexican team Queretaro 2-1.

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Watched by Argentina national team coach Lionel Scaloni, Messi had one of his quietest games in Miami’s pink jersey but was still able to find the target for his legions of fans and help secure a fifth straight win since his arrival.

Miami took the lead in the 12th minute through a Josef Martinez penalty and doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute through in-form Robert Taylor, who clipped home a low cross from DeAndre Yedlin.

Charlotte, who had been largely content to frustrate Messi and Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets in the opening 45 minutes, showed more adventure after the break and substitute Patrick Agyemang should have pulled a goal back but his close-range header bounced over the bar.

Immediately following that let-off, Miami made sure of victory with Diego Gomez playing a low cross towards Messi in the middle only for Charlotte defender Adilson Malanda’s attempted interception ended up in his own goal.

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Lionel Messi Inter Miami

Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami CF controls the ball in the second half during the Leagues Cup 2023 quarterfinals match between Charlotte FC and Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on August 11, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

Malanda’s ill-fated slide had denied the home crowd their expected Messi goal celebration, but that was to arrive three minutes from the end of time.

With the North Carolina side tiring, Ecuador striker Leonardo Campana had time, inside the box, to calmly look up and slip the ball across to Messi for the simplest of conversions.

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After Sunday’s helter-skelter game in Dallas ended 4-4, with Miami progressing after penalties, Martino was pleased to see his team keep control of the contest.

“We kept control of the ball for longer spells and I think there was only one clear chance from the opponent. Other than that I think we didn’t suffer defensively,” said the former Barcelona and Argentina coach.

“It’s very difficult for us not to score goals that’s why we talk a lot about keeping a cleansheet because that’s almost a guarantee of being able to win the game,” he said.

Nashville crushes Minnesota

Philadelphia, runners-up in last season’s MLS Cup, will be the toughest opponent Miami has faced in the Messi-era at the club however.

The Union advanced with a winner deep in the 11th minute of stoppage time from Chris Donovan, who slotted home a Kai Wagner cross.

Jesus Bueno had put Philly ahead in the 11th minute but Queretaro levelled in the second half thanks to a well taken volley at the back post from Angel Sepulveda.

The game looked to be heading for a penalty shoot-out but the Liga MX side saw Omar Mendoza sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow before Donovan grabbed the dramatic winner.

Nashville advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 crushing of Minnesota United with all the goals coming inside the opening hour but after the sending off of defender DJ Taylor.

Taylor was ruled to have pushed Jacob Shaffelburg in the back as he ran goalwards and Nashville made the most of their numerical advantage as they romped into the last four.

Hany Mukhtar created the two goals before the break for Shaq Moore and Teal Bunbury and then the German completed the rout with a close-range blast in the 59th minute.

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Nashville will face the winner of the game between Los Angeles FC and Mexico’s Monterrey which was being played later on Friday.

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