Miami earn late draw with Nashville on Luis Suarez strike


Martino happy after another late Inter Miami rescue act

Inter Miami head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino reacts to another late leveller for Inter Miami, as Luis Suarez strikes to earn a first leg draw with Nashville in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Luis Suarez struck in stoppage time and Lionel Messi scored shortly after half-time 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 leg of the home-and-home portion of the round of 16, with Miami holding a decisive edge thanks to the away goals rule.

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Suarez tied it 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 half-time to put Nashville up 2-0. The home team believed 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.

Inter Miami players celebrate after scoring a late goal against Nashville in the Concacaf Champions Cup.
Inter Miami players celebrate after scoring a late goal against Nashville in the Concacaf Champions Cup.
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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 -- then 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 top of the box.

A penalty gave Messi a chance just before half-time 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 it, only to see Willis smother the shot as the half expired.

Shaffelburg put Nashville up right after kickoff, scoring over Drake Callender off a pass from Moore and tucking the ball under the crossbar before going to his knees and 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 as Messi finally did what everyone expected.

Suarez found his former Barcelona teammate Messi just outside the box and he 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.