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Inter Miami had to rely on the magic of their Barcelona trio as they fought back to secure a 2-2 draw against Nashville FC in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 fixture. The visitors were trailing 0-2, courtesy of a glorious brace from Jacob Shaffelburg (4′, 46′).

Lionel Messi combined with Luis Suarez to score his first-ever CONCACAF goal.

But Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets had other plans! The Uruguay legend scored a last-gasp equaliser to keep Miami in contention for the next round.

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In the 52nd-minute, Suarez found his former Barcelona teammate Messi just outside the Nashville box. The 2022 World Cup winner used his magical left foot to squeeze the ball between the opposition goalkeeper’s outstretched right fingers, and inside the left post. It also proved to be his first-ever CONCACAF goal.

Then in the fifth minute of injury time, Suarez headed in the equaliser for a clinical finish, courtesy of a brilliant cross from Busquets.

Meanwhile, Nashville were dominant in the first-half, in contrast to their second-half display. Shaffelburg made it 1-0 in the fourth minute, scoring over Drake Callender, as the ball hit the crossbar before going in. Then, he scored a screamer from outside the box, just after half-time. Nashville thought they made it 3-1 in the 83rd-minute, but Shaq Moore’s effort was ruled as offside.

Speaking after the match, Nashville coach Gary Smith had special praise for Messi, Busquets and Suarez. “It’s a completely different level of intelligence from the likes of Lionel Messi and Busquets and Suárez. Completely different level. And for the most part, I thought the guys did a wonderful job,” he said.

Meanwhile, Miami head coach Tata Martino said, “It leaves us in a good position for the second 90 minutes, which are going to be as tough as today and the other games we have played with Nashville.”

“We put the game at risk at the start of the first and second half… We came in with less intensity than the opponent put in. There are 10 or 15 minutes in each half that could have cost us the game. For an hour we controlled the ball very well, we circulated the ball well, we had chances to score but we could also be 3-0 down seven or eight minutes into the second half,” he further added.

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