Monterrey eliminates Miami from Champions Cup despite Messi’s start


Monterrey eliminates Miami from Concacaf Champions Cup despite Messi’s return

Monterrey, Mexico — Lionel Messi’s comeback to Inter Miami’s starting lineup couldn’t save his team from being knocked out of the Concacaf Champions Cup by Monterrey at BBVA Stadium on Wednesday night.

Miami entered the match trailing 2-1 from the first leg of the quarterfinal, and Monterrey extended their lead with three goals, sealing a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Miami’s hopes were dashed when Brandon Vazquez, Germán Berterame, and Jesús Gallardo scored for Monterrey. A frustrated Jordi Alba’s late red card left Miami with 10 players.

Diego Gomez scored a consolation goal for Miami from a Messi free kick, but Monterrey secured their spot in the semifinals.

In the next round, Monterrey will face the Columbus Crew, the only remaining MLS team in the tournament, with the first leg set for April 23.

Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino lamented the defeat but praised his team’s performance. He also emphasized the competitiveness between MLS and Liga MX teams.

Messi returned to Miami’s lineup after recovering from a thigh injury. Despite his efforts, Miami couldn’t overcome Monterrey’s strong performance.

Miami, currently third in the MLS Eastern Conference, will play Sporting Kansas City in their next match on Saturday.

Martino had hinted at Messi’s return during the pre-match press conference on Tuesday, confirming the forward’s fitness and indicating that his injury concerns were behind him.

Messi, who sustained a right thigh injury during Miami’s CCC round-of-16 match against Nashville on March 13, missed subsequent matches, including two friendlies with the Argentine national team.

Miami’s participation in the Concacaf Champions Cup was secured after winning the inaugural Leagues Cup in 2023, allowing them to bypass the initial round. They then defeated Nashville in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Despite their exit from the Champions Cup, Miami remains focused on their MLS campaign. Currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference, they will face Sporting Kansas City in an away match on Saturday.


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