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Messi nets brace as Inter Miami win 4-1 at New England

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Lionel Messi continued his rich vein of scoring in MLS, finding the target twice as league leaders Inter Miami came from behind for a 4-1 win at the New England Revolution on Saturday.

With his brace Messi, the top scorer in MLS, took his tally to nine goals from seven appearances this season.

A crowd over 65,612 turned up at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the stadium the Revolution share with the NFL’s New England Patriots, to see the Argentine World Cup winner.

New England, who had been hit by a virus in the build-up to the game and bottom of the Eastern Conference, delighted the bumper home crowd after just 40 seconds through an Argentine of their own — Tomas Chancalay.

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Miami defender Nicolas Freire gave the ball away to Spanish midfielder Carles Gil who clipped a ball over the top to Chancalay, who spotted Drake Callender well off his line and chipped it over the stranded Miami keeper for the opening goal.

Messi got Miami back on level terms in the 32nd minute when he was found by Robert Taylor’s through pass and the 36-year-old made no mistake, slotting home.

The eight-times Ballon d’Or winner struck again to put Miami ahead in the 68th minute when he collected a superb defence-splitting pass from his former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets and finished with his usual ease.

Miami added two more in the final stages — both created by Messi.

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Substitute Benjamin Cremaschi made it 3-1 in the 83rd minute, pouncing after a Messi shot was parried out. Luis Suarez completed the scoring, finding the top corner after a pass inside from Messi.

Miami have won three straight games since their exit from the CONCACAF Champions Cup at the hands of Mexican club Monterrey with Messi scoring five times in that run which includes wins at Kansas City and at home to Nashville.

Coach Gerardo Martino said the team were starting to come together as he had hoped.

“The Kansas City game was a key for us, because we had just been eliminated by Monterrey and the team showed their character. Now we have three wins in a row and it is getting more solid every time,” he said.

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Martino said the rest of his players had now got used to playing in front of the large crowds that Messi is drawing.

“We’ve handled it well. That was a learning curve last season and now we are dealing with it well,” he added.

New England coach Caleb Porter said he was disappointed that his defenders had allowed Messi the space for his goals but said the Argentine had shown his class in making them pay.

That’s Messi

“You have to look at both those moments because I thought they were able to find two goals when we felt pretty good about the way we were limiting their effectiveness in creating clear chances,” he said.

“But you know, that’s Messi, he finds two goals out of nowhere and it exposes the detail in those moments from us.

“I don’t think he had a ton of touches and effectiveness early in the game but, you know, that’s kind of him — he lulls you….we can’t allow a ball to be popped through the back four and find him twice,” he added.

Read Also: EPL: Iwobi moves to fourth position on Nigeria’s highest capped list

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Elsewhere, Christian Benteke scored twice for D.C. United as they enjoyed a 2-1 win at home to the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders led 1-0 through a Leo Chu goal but had goalkeeper Stefan Frei sent off in the 28th minute after he brought down Jared Stroud in the box.

Benteke put away the penalty and then won the game with a trademark header at the back post on the stroke of half-time.

Real Salt Lake take over at the top of the Western Conference after handing the Philadelphia Union their first loss of the season with a 2-1 win in Pennsylvania.

RSL move above the Los Angeles Galaxy who fell to a 2-0 defeat at Austin while defending MLS champions Columbus Crew were held to a goalless draw at home to Montreal.

Crew coach Wilfried Nancy rotated his line-up ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final second leg at Monterrey.

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