Monterrey hands Champions Cup soccer loss to Inter Miami; Messi misses game

Monterrey midfielder Maximiliano Meza (R) dribbles against Inter Miami on Wednesday at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo by Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE

April 4 (UPI) — Liga MX club Monterrey scored two second-half goals for a comeback victory over Inter Miami in the first leg of a Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal. The Herons played without star striker Lionel Messi in the loss.

Midfielders Maximiliano Meza and Jorge Rodriguez scored for the Mexican club in the 2-1 triumph Wednesday at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Defender Tomas Aviles scored for the Herons, who played with 10 men down the stretch because of a red card.

“Monterrey is a team that requires you to play with great energy, and we didn’t have enough with 10 men to play for the final 20 minutes,” Herons manager Tata Martino told reporters.

Aviles started the scoring in the 19th minute. German forward Julian Gressel started that play with a corner kick. The ball drifted inside the box before Aviles jumped in and used his right boot to swipe in a shot past Monterrey goalie Esteban Andrada.

The Herons were brought down to 10 men in the 65th minute when right wing David Ruiz drew a red card for getting his second yellow card.

Meza scored an equalizer just minutes later, beating Herons goalie Drake Callender in the 69th minute. That score came after Callender denied an initial attempt off a corner kick. Meza finished the play with a follow-up shot from the left side.

Meza then assisted Rodriguez for the go-ahead score in the 89th minute. That score came after a Herons turnover in their own box. Meza recovered the loose ball and sent a quick pass to Rodriguez. The midfielder finished the play with a 20-yard rip into the right side of the net.

The Herons will host the Colorado Rapids in an MLS game at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday at Chase Stadium. They will face Monterrey in the second leg of their quarterfinal at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in Guadalupe, Mexico.

Martino, who previously said Messi had a chance to play Wednesday, told reporters it would have “been too much of a risk” for Messi to play against Monterrey. Messi, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, hasn’t played since March 13.

“He is feeling better each day, and we will re-evaluate for the Colorado game and the return leg against Monterrey next week,” Martino said of Messi.

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