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Inter Miami drops points for first time in Lionel Messi era
MLS

Inter Miami drops points for first time in Lionel Messi era

Updated Aug. 30, 2023 11:19 p.m. ET

Inter Miami failed to score for the first time since Lionel Messi joined the team, playing a scoreless draw with Nashville on Wednesday night.

Messi failed to convert two free kick attempts in his first Major League Soccer match at home, and it was the first time during his Inter Miami tenure that he was kept off the score sheet.

Inter Miami still earned a point in the standings as it looks to make a late-season playoff push. Miami entered the game 11 points shy of the MLS playoff line and needing to move up from 14th to ninth place to make the playoffs.

Miami had won its previous nine matches as Messi's addition gave the team an immediate boost. He has scored 10 goals, including three multi-goal performances.

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Messi started the game Wednesday along with former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets after the two entered Miami's previous match against the New York Red Bulls in the 60th minute.

Miami had no shots on goal Wednesday through the first 60 minutes as the team struggled to break through Nashville's defense.

Messi attempted a free kick in the 60th minute after drawing a foul on Nashville's Dax McCarty, but the shot to the bottom-left corner was stopped by Elliot Panicco.

Still, Inter Miami fans took out their phones to record the free kick, just in case the seven-time Ballon d'Or delivered another goal similar to the one in his debut — when he scored in the 94th minute to give Miami a win over Mexican Club Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup opener.

Nashville's Hany Mukhtar had a goal erased by an offside call in the 69th minute.

Messi got another chance in the 83rd minute, but the shot bounced off the wall of defenders.

The two teams met 10 days ago in the Leagues Cup final. Messi scored early in regulation and converted the first shot in penalty kicks, and Miami won after an 11-round penalty kick shootout for its first ever trophy.

Messi and Inter Miami players posed with co-owner Jorge Mas on the field Wednesday with the Leagues Cup trophy for the first time in front of their home fans.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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