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Messi avoids leg injury, Inter Miami storms back to beat CF Montreal

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How good is Inter Miami? Lionel Messi’s club erased a 2-0 deficit in a matter of two minutes right before halftime, with one goal coming as he rested on the sideline.

Messi was held scoreless and without an assist in his first career match in Canada, missing two free kick opportunities and two late charges to the net in the second half. His streak of eight straight games with multiple goal contributions ended, and he lost the MLS scoring lead to his teammate.

More important, Messi avoided a significant injury to his legendary left leg – about five weeks ahead of Copa America – and went the distance in Inter Miami’s 3-2 road win over CF Montreal on Saturday night.

Matias Rojas scored in the 44th minute, and Luis Sua�rez scored in first half extra time to tie the match, and Benjamin Cremaschi’s goal in the 58th minute helped Inter Miami win its fifth straight match for the first time in its four-year franchise history.

“Not being able to close out the first half mentally was a heartbreaker,� Montreal coach Laurent Courtois said.

“Yeah, it was a good game. I understand the people cheering for Messi. For me as a head coach when I’m losing, hearing my stadium cheering the other guy when we’re losing, it’s tough.�

Inter Miami vs CF Montreal highlights

Will Messi play vs. Orlando City? Messi not a fan of MLS injury rule

Messi’s availability for Wednesday’s road game against Orlando City, and next Saturday’s home game against D.C. United, could be affected. Inter Miami will play three matches in eight days, and keeping Messi healthy to join Argentina for Copa America remains a high priority.

Just before halftime, Messi spent several minutes laying on the pitch after being tackled by Montreal’s George Campbell. Messi extended his left leg to control a pass toward him, but Campbell’s momentum carried him right into the 2022 World Cup champion.

Messi walked to the sideline after being evaluated by trainers. He appeared upset about the two-minute wait he had to endure to re-enter the game at the next stoppage point, a new MLS rule implemented this season.

“With this kind of rule,� Messi said as the cameras captured his disgust, “we’re headed in the wrong direction.�

Inter Miami coach Tata Martino was not asked about Messi’s condition after the match, but said the rule change should be re-evaluated after Campbell incurred a yellow card and Messi was summoned to stand on the sidelines.

“With this rule change, there are situations that need to be reviewed,� Martino said. “For me, the infraction was clear. It was a yellow card, and in the end, we were the ones who lost Leo for two minutes.�

Despite a quiet night from Messi, one week after making MLS history with five assists and six total goal contributions in a 6-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, it wasn’t a bad night at all for Inter Miami.

Luis Sua�rez tied for MLS lead with 11 goals, Messi remains at 10 goals

Sua�rez jumped into a tie for the MLS lead with his 11th goal of the season, passing Messi, who entered the match with 10 goals. It was Sua�rez’s fourth goal in two games after a hat trick last Saturday. He ended the night tied with Real Salt Lake’s Chicho Arango and D.C. United’s Christian Benteke atop the MLS goals list.

With Messi on the sideline one minute earlier, Rojas sparked the comeback with his goal, just like he sparked Inter Miami’s comeback with two goals last week when it was down 1-0 against the Red Bulls. Rojas has scored three goals in three matches since joining Inter Miami.

Messi’s free kicks soared above the net without enough bend to find the back of the net. Messi missed a chance in the 91st minute as he charged toward the net, but his shot was blocked. He was also offsides in his attempt to score on a right kick in the 84th minute.

Messi’s eight-game streak with multiple goal contributions ranks second in MLS history, behind only LA Galaxy standout Cobi Jones, who had multiple goal contributions in the first nine games in 1998.

Bryce Duke (22′) and Jules-Anthony Vilsaint (32′) scored for Montreal, which took a 2-0 lead early, but late attempts by Dominic Iankov (69’), JoaquiÌ�n Sosa (74’) and Joel Waterman (95’) were unable to find the net even after a quiet night from Messi.

Benjamin Cremaschi goal: Inter Miami 3, CF Montreal 2

Benjamin Cremaschi didn’t get the first touch he wanted. But he saw his last touch roll into the back of the net.

Cremaschi’s goal in the 58th minute gives Inter Miami a 3-2 lead over Montreal, and marks three unanswered goals for Messi’s side.

Messi passed forward to Rojas, who found Cremaschi open in the middle of the field. And a 2-0 deficit has turned into a 3-2 lead for Inter Miami.

Luis Sua�rez goal: CF Montreal 2, Inter Miami 2

Luis Sua�rez has struck again, scoring his 11th goal of the season, just before halftime. It was only a matter of minutes ago Inter Miami was trailing 2-0 in the first half.

Sua�rez finished a corner kick one minute after Rojas scored to bring Inter Miami back even.

One more thing: Messi is fine. He has possessed the ball at least twice, and shows no ill effects from an earlier tackle.

Matias Rojas scores free kick goal: CF Montreal 2, Inter Miami 1

Inter Miami is on the board in the first half, all while Messi was standing on the sideline.

Newcomer Matias Rojas scored a free kick in the 44th minute to trim Inter Miami’s deficit. Rojas has been on a tear, scoring his third goal in two matches. It’s only his third match with the club, and his free kick had the bend similar to Messi’s dynamic kicks.

Messi avoids injury in first half: CF Montreal 2, Inter Miami 0

Messi got up on his own and walked toward the sidelines after being evaluated with an injury.

Messi went down in the 40th minute, and he was in significant pain. He grabbed his left knee after he collided with Montreal centerback George Campbell.

Messi stretched his left leg out to control a pass, but was bumped into by Campbell, whose momentum carried him into Messi.

Messi laid on the pitch for several minutes before walking off. He remained standing on the sideline but re-entered in the final minute of the first half.

Jules-Anthony Vilsaint goal: CF Montreal 2, Inter Miami 0

Montreal’s Jules-Anthony Vilsaint delivered a right boot past the outstretched reach of Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender in the 32nd minute.

And Inter Miami is on the ropes in Canada, down 2-0 in the first half.

Vilsaint, who assisted on Duke’s goal earlier in the match, is a 21-year-old forward who grew up in Montreal. Now, he’ll have a lasting memory of scoring against Messi’s Inter Miami.

Bryce Duke goal: CF Montreal 1, Inter Miami 0

Welp, Inter Miami is down early yet again, for the sixth straight MLS game.

Bryce Duke delivered a left boot past Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender to help Montreal take a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.

Messi misses free kick: Inter Miami 0, CF Montreal 0

Messi’s free kick had the bend, but was just too high over the net in the 18th minute.

Messi hit a defender with a crosser like he was Allen Iverson, and tripped over the defender’s foot, earning a favorable call for free kick by the referee.

Fans in Montreal will have to wait for another opportunity for Messi to shine.

Montreal misses two early chances: Inter Miami 0, CF Montreal 0

A Montreal free kick sailed over the net, while a corner kick was cleared by Inter Miami’s Marcelo Weigandt in the first 10 minutes.

So, Inter Miami has avoided falling behind 1-0 like it has in three of the last four matches.

Inter Miami vs. CF Montreal match underway: Inter Miami 0, CF Montreal 0

The crowd has already erupted after Messi’s first touch in the first minute. Messi even has an early pass with swinging right foot that found Julian Gressel, whose shot on goal was blocked in the third minute.

How to watch CF Montreal vs. Inter Miami live stream 

WATCH: Messi and Inter Miami travel to take on CF Montreal on Apple TV
SHOP: Get the latest Messi and Inter Miami team gear from the MLS Store
TICKETS: Experience Messi and Inter Miami in person on the road in Montreal

Will Inter Miami trail 1-0 early? Keep an eye on this:

Something to keep an eye on as Inter Miami and Montreal get underway: Messi’s side has fallen behind 1-0 early in their last four matches. In three of those matches, the deficit happened in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Still, Inter Miami has won each game.

Will Messi play in Montreal?

Yes, Messi is in Inter Miami’s starting lineup for the Montreal match tonight.

Messi, Inter Miami arrive for Montreal game

Messi fans were out in full force for his stadium arrival for tonight’s game.

Montreal fans welcome Messi outside team hotel 

Messi and Inter Miami were greeted by fans when they arrived in Montreal late Friday night. 

Saturday’s game is the first of three Inter Miami matches in Canada this season, with another coming later this month. Messi and Inter Miami will play in Vancouver on May 25, and have a match in Toronto later this season on Oct. 5. 

Inter Miami looking for revenge vs. Montreal 

Inter Miami also has a chance to increase its lead in the MLS Eastern Conference and get some revenge against a team that beat them earlier this season for the second consecutive week. Montreal beat Inter Miami 3-2 on March 10 in a match Messi did not play to rest a shin injury.

Messi is coming off his best MLS game after becoming the first player to record five assists, and record six goal contributions in a match, during Inter Miami’s 6-2 blowout win over the New York Red Bulls last Saturday, to avenge a 4-0 loss earlier this season. 

Inter Miami’s upcoming schedule 

The Montreal match begins a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday stretch for Inter Miami. The next five games are Messi’s last with Inter Miami before he joins Argentina for Copa America this summer. 

May 15: Inter Miami at Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET

May 15: Inter Miami at Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET
May 18: Inter Miami vs. DC United, 7:30 p.m. ET
May 25: Inter Miami at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET
May 29: Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET
June 1: Inter Miami vs. St. Louis City, 7:30 p.m. ET

This post appeared first on USA TODAY