CF Montreal edges Inter Miami squad missing Lionel Messi

League: MLS

Posted on: 10 Mar, 2024 at 11:42 PM

Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Matias Coccoro scored his first career MLS goal on a 75th-minute header and visiting CF Montreal took advantage of Lionel Messi's injury absence in a 3-2 victory over Inter Miami CF on Sunday afternoon.

Fernando Alvarez added a goal early and Sunusi Ibrahim added one late for Montreal (2-0-1, 7 points), which won its second on the road this season while handing Miami (2-1-1, 7 points) its first defeat in any 2024 competition.

Former Inter Miami striker Josef Martinez set up Ibrahim's late tally, which eventually proved the matchwinner for the visitors after four of the game's five goals came in the last 20 minutes plus stoppage time.

Leonardo Campana and Jordi Alba each scored their first goals of the season for Miami, which also began the game with Messi's former FC Barcelona teammates Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets on the bench.

Messi had been listed as questionable with a shin injury picked up in Thursday night's 2-2 draw at Nashville SC in Leg 1 of their round-of-16 series in the CONCACAF Champions League. Manager Tata Martino likely limited Suarez and Busquets' minutes on Sunday with next Wednesday's second leg of that series in mind.

Making his third MLS appearance after his offseason transfer from CA Huracan in Argentina, Coccaro missed two excellent chances before halftime. But he gave Montreal the lead for good in the 75th minute on the Canadians' second set-piece strike of the afternoon.

This time, Mathieu Choiniere sent in an inswinging free-kick service from the left flank, and Coccoro beat his marker and remained onside to head it between Drake Callender and his near post.

Ibrahim made it 3-1 only three minutes later when Martinez got in a favorable position inside the penalty area, and then laid the ball back into his sprinting teammate's path. Ibrahim's low shot deflected off a Miami defender, wrongfooting Callender as it rolled into the net.

That goal proved necessary two minutes later when Alba reached a loose, bouncing ball near the top of the penalty arc and drove a first-time half-volley into the top left corner of Jonathan Sirois' net.

--Field Level Media