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Messi scores twice, Inter Miami beats Nashville SC 3-1

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lionel Messi scored twice to increase his Major League Soccer total to seven and also had an assist to lead Inter Miami 3-1 against Nashville SC on Saturday night.

Messi, who had his second two-goal game in MLS after scoring two against Orlando on March 2. He has a goal or assist in each of the six league matches he has played, missing four due to injury.

Sergio Busquets scored his first goal in Miami since joining former Barcelona teammate Messi last summer.

Miami (5-2-3, 21 points) has been undefeated against Nashville in five games since Messi’s arrival. Miami also remained in first place in the Eastern Conference.

For the second week in a row, Miami allowed a goal in the opening minutes when an own goal by Miami defenseman Franco Neri gave Nashville the lead. Neri deflected Daniel Lovitz’s corner into Miami’s net in the second minute.

That was the only goal for Nashville (1-6-1, 4).

Miami erased the early deficit with goals from Messi and Busquets in the 11th and 39th minutes.

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) runs with the ball as Nashville SC defender Daniel Lovitz (2) defends during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Credit: AP/Marta Lavandier

Nashville goalkeeper Elliot Panicco deflected Messi’s shot from 12 yards to an open Suárez, who immediately tapped it to Messi. With Panicco out of position, Messi converted a sliding shot inside the six-yard box for the equalizer.

Busquets scored the tiebreak when he headed Messi’s corner past Panicco to the near post.

Goalkeeper Drake Callender kept Miami ahead when he took a diving deflection from Hany Mukhtar’s 35-yard blast in the 55th minute.

Messi gave Miami a two-goal cushion when he converted on a penalty in the 81st minute. Nashville’s Josh Bauer fouled Leo Alfonso on the edge of the penalty kick and Messi beat reserve goalkeeper Joe Willis inside the left post.

Inter Miami midfielder Diego Gómez (20) congratulates forward Lionel Messi (10) on a goal during the first half of the team’s MLS soccer match against Nashville SC, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Credit: AP/Marta Lavandier

Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba did not play due to a hamstring injury.

Miami visits New England next Saturday, while Nashville hosts San Jose.

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