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Inter Leaves Monterrey Beaten


In the nightlife atmosphere beneath Monterrey's iconic Cerro de la Silla, which rises majestically to 6,000 feet, the Champions Cup quarterfinal match between Inter Miami and Monterrey took place.

Faced with the difficult task of coming back from a two-goal deficit, Lionel Messi and his teammates in pink uniforms entered the fray at the BBVA Stadium, nestled in the shadow of the mountain. However, they faltered, succumbing 3-1 to the Mexican team, culminating in a 5-2 aggregate loss.

Miami Didn't See the Light in Monterrey

Miami's performance was marked by defensive errors and a dearth of offensive opportunities, this being their most decisive defeat with Messi on the field. The frustration boiled over with a red card shown to the distraught Jordi Alba.

Despite a warm welcome from fans the night before, Messi found himself subjected to boos from the crowd of 53,500 whenever he touched the ball.

Meanwhile, exuberant Rayados fans rejoiced in their team's triumph, anticipating a thrilling semifinal showdown against reigning MLS champions Columbus Crew, who eliminated Tigres in a midweek matchup.

For Messi, it was a return to the starting lineup after recovering from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the first quarterfinal match.

Accompanied by the formidable trio of Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Alba, Messi looked to make an impact.

His recent appearance against the Colorado Rapids showed glimpses of his prowess, signaling a promising recovery from injury problems, as stated by coach Tata Martino.

In the resurgence of a heated feud last week between Monterrey head coach Fernando "Tano" Ortiz and assistant Nico Sanchez, who made disparaging comments about Messi, the Argentine star likely entered the match with extra weight on his shoulders.

However, despite high expectations, Messi failed to conjure his usual magic on this occasion.

His desolate expression as he left the field at the end of the game spoke for itself, reflecting the disappointment shared by Inter Miami co-owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas, evident on their faces on television.

Reflecting on the match, coach Martino highlighted Inter Miami's laudable performance in previous encounters, but acknowledged that Monterrey's second goal, scored by Germán Berterame, proved to be the turning point.

All of this effectively ended his tournament career. Martino acknowledged Monterrey's well-deserved advance, accepting the result.

Messi & Co. Didn't Raise Their Heads

In the starting lineup, Messi and Suarez led the attack, supported by Diego Gomez, Sergio Busquets and Julian Gressel in midfield. Martino opted for a defensive setup with five at the back, made up of Alba, Noah Allen, Nico Freire, Tomas Aviles and Marcelo "Chelo" Weigandt.

While goalkeeper Drake Callender made a pair of crucial saves early on, his mistake in the 31st minute proved costly, gifting Brandon Vazquez a chance that he took advantage of to give Monterrey the lead.

Miami's problems deepened in the second half as Monterrey tightened its grip on the game.

Berterame took advantage of a gap in Miami's defense, firing a precise shot into the top right corner in the 58th minute. Just eight minutes later, an unmarked Jesús Gallardo doubled the lead with a well-placed header.

Despite mounting pressure, Martino opted not to make substitutions, citing the youth of his substitutes and unfavorable circumstances. As frustration boiled over, Alba received two yellow cards in quick succession, leaving Miami down to ten men.

Gomez rescued a consolation goal in the 85th minute, converting a pass from Messi, but the muted response reflected the team's disappointment. After the game, Martino and Ortiz refrained from the usual handshake.

Inter Miami had aspired to prove themselves against Monterrey, especially with Messi back in the team, but it was clear that Monterrey outplayed them. Messi expressed concerns about MLS teams battling Liga MX opponents due to strict MLS roster regulations, expressing hopes for future relaxation of these rules.

Injury sidelined Leo Campana and Sergiy Kryvtsov for Miami, while David Ruiz's suspension from the previous game further complicated their lineup.

Miami now shifts its focus to upcoming MLS matchups, facing Kansas City on the road before returning home to face Nashville SC on April 20.

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