Sporting Kansas City 2-3 Inter Miami: Player ratings as Messi inspires the Herons to much-needed victory

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Lionel Messi grabbed a goal and an assist as Inter Miami picked up a victory for the first time since March 16 with a 3-2 triumph over Sporting Kansas City.

Both sides were eager to get things going in front of a crowd of over 72,000 at Arrowhead Stadium, as Kansas City were aiming to pick up their second home win while the Herons were trying to put an end to a winless run of five games.

Sporting KC got off to a thundering start in front of an electric crowd after a turnover on Miami’s half of the field. Tim Leibold dispossessed Marcelo ‘Chelo’ Weigandt and the Germany international laid it off to Erik Thommy, who was all alone just outside of the Herons’ penalty area. Thommy took a touch before rifling it into the far corner that was out of reach for Drake Callender to put SKC up 1-0 in the sixth minute.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to strike back, though. A brilliant team move from the visiting Herons saw the legendary Messi play an exquisite through ball for Diego Gomez to latch on to before finding the back of the net from close range. Messi grabbed the assist with a pass no one else on the pitch was envisioning, and Sporting KC’s Tim Melia managed to get a glove to Gomez’s strike but was unable to keep it out.

Five minutes into the second 45, the Herons went in front thanks to a rocket of a strike from none other than Messi. Sergio Busquets stepped in to make an interception in Sporting KC’s half and the ball found its way to Messi’s wand of a left foot, and the 36-year-old smashed it home over Melia to give the Herons their first lead of the night.

Messi’s strike might’ve been out of this world, but what came next was even better. Luis Suarez headed away a Kansas City corner kick that fell to Thommy, who blasted a volleyed effort that struck Callender’s near post and found the back of the net. Thommy’s second strike of the night made it 2-2 with roughly 30 minutes to play in normal time.

El Pistolero got in on the action roughly 10 minutes later after some brilliant defensive work from Gomez. The Paraguay international stole the ball off Jacob Davis and sent in an inviting low-driven cross with the outside of his right boot that Suarez tapped in from about four yards out to score the winning goal for Miami.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was in the starting XI for the second straight game / Kyle Rivas/GettyImages

GK: Drake Callender – 6/10 – Not much he could’ve done to keep out either of Thommy’s efforts.

RB: Marcelo Weigandt – 6/10 – His lack of awareness resulted in Sporting KC finding the opening goal. However, he improved as the game wore on and helped shore up the backline in the latter stages.

CB: Tomas Aviles – 6/10 – Had no choice but to take one for the team with an early yellow card and it certainly didn’t help that Miami were 1-0 down and inviting more pressure onto themselves.

CB: Nicolas Freire – 6.5/10 – Tidy on the ball for the most part and stepped up to make several clearances.

LB: Jordi Alba – 7/10 – A thorn in the right side of the SKC defense with his constant overlapping runs and cut-back passes.

CM: David Ruiz – 7/10 – A strong showing from the Honduras international after he was sorely missed against Rayados in the second leg of the Champions Cup quarterfinal.

CM: Sergio Busquets – 7/10 – Made several key clearances that included an interception to help set up Messi’s longe-range stunner.

CM: Julian Gressel – 6.5/10 – Started on the right foot in the buildup to Gomez’s goal but faded as the game went on.

RW: Lionel Messi – 9/10 – Grabbed an assist with incredible vision to setup the team’s first goal before sending in a screamer over Melia to put his side in front.

ST: Luis Suarez – 7.5/10 – Was left isolated for most of the first half but looked more lively after the restart and was in the right place at the right time to put Miami in front.

LW: Diego Gomez – 8.5/10 – Brought the game to level terms with his low-driven effort in more advanced position than he’s used to playing in. His tireless pressing was rewarded with a pinpoint assist to Suarez.

Substitutes

SUB: Benjamin Cremaschi (67′ for Gressel) – 6/10 – Provided a spark off the bench in his first appearance of the campaign.

SUB: Franco Negri (78′ for Alba) – 6/10 – N/A

SUB: Yannick Bright (90′ for Gomez) – N/A

Manager

Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino – 8/10 – Managed the game well enough for the Herons to finally pick up three points for the first time in roughly a month. He made an interesting decision to start all four of his star players just three days after they started the Champions Cup clash with Monterrey, and it almost ended up working in Miami’s favor — but Jordi Alba was forced off in the second half through injury.

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