Inter Miami vs Nashville SC score, result, highlights as Lionel Messi picks up two goals in MLS win

When Lionel Messi is on the field, there’s no debate about who is the best player in Major League Soccer.

Inter Miami benefitted greatly from the Argentine’s brilliance yet again as two goals and an assist from Messi saw the Herons top Nashville SC 3-1 to strengthen their lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Nashville went in front just two minutes into the match on an own-goal from Franco Negri, in the lineup as a replacement for injured Jordi Alba, but from there Messi took command of the Chase Stadium pitch.

Messi leveled the score in the 11th minute, and then served up a corner to longtime teammate Sergio Busquets for the lead in the 39th minute, as the Inter Miami No. 6 scored his first goal for the club.

Nashville looked threatening throughout the match, but struggled to put themselves in a position to beat Drake Callender who made multiple quality saves.

Inter Miami faded a bit after halftime, feeling the effects of Diego Gomez’s absence after the Paraguayan went down before the break with what looked to be a serious injury. Yet they weathered the Nashville second-half storm, and Messi carried them ever forward, as Gomez’s replacement Leo Afonso won a penalty 10 minutes from full-time and the Argentine buried the spot-kick.

All told, Messi finished the game on seven goals and six assists for the young season, leading the league in both categories despite having played far fewer minutes than the others near the top of the charts.

The Sporting News followed the Inter Miami vs. Nashville SC match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened.

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC final score

  Score Goal scorers
Inter Miami 3 Messi (11′, 81′),
Busquets (39′)
Nashville SC 1 Negri (OG, 2′)

Kickoff: 7:37 p.m. ET / 4:37 p.m. PT
Location: Chase Stadium (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Referee: Ismael Elfath

Starting lineups:

Inter Miami (4-3-3, right to left): Callender (GK) — Weigandt, Aviles, Freire, Negri — Gressel (Bright, 74′), Busquets, D. Ruiz — Messi, Suarez (Cremaschi, 88′), D. Gomez (Afonso, 41′)

Nashville SC (3-5-2, right to left): Panicco (GK — Willis, 48′) — Bauer, MacNaughton (Maher, 50′), Lovitz — Muyl, Davis (Anunga, 74′), Yearwood (Sejdic, 74′), Godoy (Leal, 85′), Shaffelburg — Mukhtar, Surridge.

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC stats

Inter Miami Stat Nashville
10 Shots 13
7 Shots on target 5
53% Possession 47%
376 Passes 319
4 Corners 6
13 Fouls 11
2 Yellow cards 1

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC live updates, highlights, commentary

FINAL: Inter Miami 3-1 Nashville SC

Five minutes of added time pass without much happening, and Inter Miami have secured the three points to strengthen their lead atop the Eastern Conference. The Herons go three points clear at the top of the table, although they’ve played one or as much as two games more than anyone else around them.

It’s blatantly obvious that with Lionel Messi on the field, Inter Miami are one of the best teams in the league, but they are so heavily reliant on him that any injury issues down the road could prove fatal to their chances of securing the MLS crown.

A potentially serious injury to Diego Gomez is concerning as well, as the Paraguayan youngster has been one of the club’s best performers through the young season, and his loss would be devastating to a squad already paper-thin with injury troubles.

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: Second Half

85th min: Another change for Nashville as Anibal Godoy comes off to give Randall Leal his first appearance of the season having recovered from a long-term injury. On the opposite touchline, Benjamin Cremaschi enters for Luis Suarez as Inter Miami have wrapped up the match.

80th min: PENALTY, INTER MIAMI! Leo Afonso is taken down right on the edge of the penalty area with a needless challenge from Josh Bauer moving away from goal! It’s definitely the right decision, and what a moronic moment that is from the young defender!

Lionel Messi steps up to the spot looking to seal the three points…GOAL! INTER MIAMI! Messi sends Willis the wrong way! It’s a two-goal lead for Inter Miami and they’re all but surely set for the victory!

75th min: A trio of changes between the sides, as the coaches look to freshen up their squads with the first tactical substitutions of the match. Inter Miami midfielder Julian Gressel is withdrawn for Yannick Bright, which is a surprise as he possesses a 90-minute motor, while Nashville swap out Dru Yearwood and Sean Davis for Amar Sejdic and Brian Anunga.

72nd min: Inter Miami nearly create another chance on the break but Leo Afonso completely whiffs while trying to put a shot on frame under pressure from a charging Joe Willis. Nashville have been in control over the past 15 minutes, but don’t really have much to show for it, as Inter Miami seem comfortable and able to pick out spots on the counter.

62nd min: As we pass the hour mark, the visitors seem to be growing into the match, looking for an equalizing goal. Inter Miami have sat back a bit and conceded possession, looking to defend their lead and hit on the counter. Nashville are building in confidence.

56th min: Chance, Nashville! WHOA! Hany Mukhtar nearly scores an absolute stunner from what has to be 37 yards out, but Drake Callender makes a sensational full-stretch fingertip save! That was destined to smash into the top corner, but Callender had other ideas!

While Callender has been error-prone this season at times, his pure shot stopping is among the best in MLS, if not number one.

48th min: The crowd has a roar as Lionel Messi goes down under contact from a challenge by Lukas MacNaughton, but the referee isn’t interested in giving the hosts a penalty. Rightly so, as it was good last-ditch defending from MacNaughton, who needs treatment in the aftermath.

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It didn’t appear to be too nasty of an injury, but the Nashville trainer signals for the stretcher, and the visitors will be forced into a change with Jack Maher to enter for an injured MacNaughton. The fact it took the trainer very little time to determine MacNaughton’s evening was run is concerning for Nashville, who are already thin due to injury.

As he’s stretchered off, MacNaughton is shown a yellow card for a tackle earlier in the play on Luis Suarez, from which the referee played advantage. It won’t matter, as his match is over regardless.

Kickoff: The match is back under way with no changes from either side, as both managers have confidence in those still on the pitch for now. Inter Miami started the first half poorly but snatched control of the game after about 15 minutes, so Nashville will be hoping to catch them napping early in a half again.

Well…no changes it appeared, but then we’ve spotted a change in goal, as Elliot Panicco is replaced by Joe Willis. There was a goalkeeping controversy, as Panicco had started the last three matches, but after a difficult first half, Willis comes in, and you’d expect him to stay at that spot going forward if it’s bad enough for an in-game swap.

HALFTIME: Inter Miami 2-1 Nashville SC

A wonderfully entertaining first half sees Inter Miami in front, as players missed chances at both ends throughout those 45 minutes. Lionel Messi continues to set MLS records, and Inter Miami continue to play wonderfully entertaining games.

Nashville troubled the hosts greatly with their press off the jump, but once Inter Miami collected themselves and figured out how to break the high line, they pummeled Elliot Panicco’s net repeatedly, and probably should have a bigger lead.

Yet with the positive, again, comes the negative as Inter Miami suffered yet another potentially devastating injury. Diego Gomez, who’s had a fantastic season thus far and promises to be a brilliant player for the club in the future, went down with what appears to be a serious injury. Panicco inadvertently stamped on the back of his heel, and there could be a lengthy layoff for the Paraguayan youngster if it’s indeed his Achilles that has suffered damage.

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: First Half

43rd min: Chance, Inter Miami! The ball is in the back of the net for an Inter Miami third but the flag denies Leo Afonso an instant-impact goal! It’s a beautiful combination between Lionel Messi, Julian Gressel, and Afonso but offside is confirmed on replay to nullify a gorgeous goal from the hosts.

Four minutes of added time are shown as the first half nears a close.

40th min: On the restart, Marcelo Weigandt is booked for a really dangerous challenge on Jacob Shaffelburg, and it draws a chat from not only the referee but Lionel Messi too, who looks to calm his full-back down.

Diego Gomez is being stretchered off the pitch, which is a real concern as he looks extremely distraught, and he is replaced by Leo Afonso in midfield. During the stoppage in play, Tata Martino is shown a yellow card by referee Ismael Elfath.

39th min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! Once Diego Gomez is brought off the pitch for treatment, the corner is swung in by Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets flicks a near-post header across the face of goal and inside the far post! What a pinpoint header with his back to goal!

Lionel Messi is the first MLS player to record multiple goal contributions in five of his first six games to begin a single season! More history for the Argentine great!

37th min: Chance, Inter Miami! NASHVILLE SC CLEAR OFF THE LINE! Elliot Panicco makes a huge error in possession, as he has his pocket picked inside his own penalty area shaded to the right of goal! The ball comes across to Luis Suarez at the far post, and only a goal-line clearance by Lukas MacNaughton keeps the ball from going in!

There’s a huge concern for Inter Miami as Diego Gomez is down in a ton of pain, holding his face in significant distress. It appears as if they are working on his right leg, with either an ankle or knee problem.

33rd min: Chance, Inter Miami! Off a corner, Lionel Messi lofts a ball perfectly placed to the far post, and Luis Suarez leapt extremely high over a defender to snap a header on frame, but it’s saved as Elliot Panicco does well to protect the tight angle.

29th min: Chance, Inter Miami! A vicious Lionel Messi volley is saved by Elliot Panicco! A long ball for Luis Suarez at the top of the penalty area is headed strongly down to Messi running at the goal, and he lets it bounce once before ripping a scissor kick on frame, but while it stings the palms of Panicco, it’s right at the goalkeeper who didn’t have to work hard to make the save.

27th min: David Ruiz is booked for booting the ball away after it had gone out of play. That’s a very silly yellow card for the Honduran youngster. Unnecessary.

24th min: Julian Gressel goes hard into Jacob Shaffelburg on the touchline, checking the Canadian international into the advertising boards.

Gressel is lucky to get away without further discipline, as it was a very yellow-cardworthy challenge, ignoring the ball completely and seeking out the opponent before lowering a shoulder for the charge, but Ismael Elfath does acknowledge the moment by having a conversation with Gressel. He’ll be on thin ice the rest of the way.

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18th min: Chance, Nashville! TOMAS AVILES CLEARS OFF THE LINE! Hany Mukhtar is free on goal, and with the angle being closed down by a trailing defender, he looks to square to strike partner Sam Surridge on the two-on-two break.

While the pass doesn’t reach Surridge, it comes off Aviles and falls right back into the Nashville attacker’s lap. He strikes it towards the open goal, but Aviles somehow recovers to acrobatically lift his leg into the air and poke the ball away! That’s an athletic and impressive clearance with no time to react!

What a wild game this is!

14th min: Chance, Inter Miami! LIONEL MESSI HITS THE POST! The Argentine great touches onto his left and back onto his right to put a defender in a blender, but while trying to poke it past Elliot Panicco, he strikes the woodwork square-on! So close to a three-minute brace!

11th min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! Lionel Messi brings Inter Miami back level against the run of play! It’s been all Nashville SC so far, as their press has Inter Miami all out of sorts, but the first time the hosts break the pressure they manage to cash in!

Messi sees his first effort saved well by Elliot Panicco, but Nashville fail to clear the danger, and the ball falls right back into his lap at the far post and he slides to complete the equalizer!

6th min: Chance, Nashville! The visitors nearly score again off a set-piece, and they should be up 2-0! A free-kick from basically the corner flag is swung in and cleared, but the recycled ball falls to Bauer who powers in a first-time shot hoping to redirect the ball into the net.

It clangs off the underside of the crossbar, somehow staying out, and then Drake Callender recovers to collect the ball before it bounces in or is poked home by a trailing attacker. Inter Miami have been completely unlocked twice by dead ball situations!

2nd min: GOAL! NASHVILLE! Immediately into the attack, Hany Mukhtar wins a corner, and the delivery results in an own-goal off Franco Negri’s hip. It looks like Negri expected a pair of players leaping to head the ball to make contact, and when both came up empty, he was surprised by its arrival into his lap.

Kickoff: They’re underway at Chase Stadium! Can Nashville get over the hump and finally beat a Lionel Messi-led Inter Miami side? The hosts have lost just once in MLS play with Messi in the starting lineup.

It’s still early days, but points will be at a premium all year long, and the margins are always thin at the end of the season, so titles can be won in April too!

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC: Pre-match commentary, analysis, more

15 mins to kickoff: If you were wondering what kind of effect it would have on Inter Miami as a club to be led by Tata Martino and Lionel Messi on the pitch, here’s your answer: the entire defensive line tonight is of Argentine nationality, as Franco Negri steps in to fill the shoes of an injured Jordi Alba to go alongside new additions Marcelo Weigandt and Nicolas Freire and incumbent starter Tomas Aviles.

Add in the injured Facundo Farias, whom the club has touted as a very talented player currently on the shelf with an ACL tear, and the presence of dual-national Benjamin Cremaschi, the Argentine influence on this Herons squad is extremely heavy.

30 mins to kickoff: There seems to have been a shift for Nashville SC at the goalkeeper position. Joe Willis, last year’s league starter, began the year as the No. 1 option in net, but Elliot Panicco earns his third straight start in goal here, signaling a shift in the club’s long-term selection at the position.

Those two have been battling back-and-forth for a starting spot at Nashville for going on two years. Back in 2022, Gary Smith said that they had “high hopes” for Panicco and that while Willis was the starter at the time, he made a change over the summer to give his first-choice ‘keeper “a bit of mental space.” Three games in a row, though, seems to be the product of a more long-term shift.

45 mins to kickoff: The MLS studio crew made an interesting comparison when looking at the Inter Miami squad, highlighting the abilities of Diego Gomez, who he likens to Miguel Almiron — but don’t take his word for it, as Andrew Wiebe claims the comparison comes straight from Tata Martino.

Wiebe says that Martino, who coached Almiron at Atlanta United, believes Gomez to be an asset for the club, and they are expecting a European side to eventually come in for a big-money transfer down the road.

1 hour to kickoff: Lineups are in, and Lionel Messi starts for Inter Miami at home against a familiar foe. Nashville will be the first U.S. club that Messi will match up against five times, having yet to face another U.S. club even three times to this point. The only opponent he has even had the opportunity to face three times is in-state rival Orlando City, but he did not take the field in last year’s final league meeting between the two.

1 hour 15 mins to kickoff: There’s sporting pressure on Inter Miami to keep achieving results. It’s very early in the MLS season, but while Inter Miami sit top of the Eastern Conference table, they are not in control of the Supporters’ Shield race, as they are level with the New York Red Bulls on points but have played an extra game, while the Philadelphia Union sit  two back in third having played two fewer matches.

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In fact, with Inter Miami having played at least one more game than any other Eastern Conference club, they are conceivably within one game of nine clubs behind them in the standings. If they drop a few consecutive results, the Herons could find themselves tumbling down the table and in a scrap just to make the playoffs as the summer rolls around.

1 hour 30 mins to kickoff: Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith must be sick of seeing Lionel Messi by now. The Argentine legend scored in both CONCACAF Champions Cup Round of 16 legs earlier this season, and bagged a goal against them in the Leagues Cup final last season.

He couldn’t hide his frustration when asked about Messi in his pre-match press availability, saying that he’s “a little disappointed” that Messi has recovered fitness and form in time for this matchup. You have to respect him for the honesty there!

1 hour 45 mins to kickoff: The latest Inter Miami star to succumb to a hamstring issue is Jordi Alba, who was ruled out of this match in the run-up by head coach Tata Martino. He is expected to be absent for at least two matches, as the injury crisis for Inter Miami continues unabated.

2 hours to kickoff: One constant theme that Inter Miami players have harped on since Lionel Messi joined the club is how much better he makes them, with his influence both on and off the field. Last year, Robert Taylor exploded onto the scene with Messi alongside, and he continually acknowledged how much more space he had to operate once Messi began operating on the opposite wing.

New signing Julian Gressel is the latest to repeat this tune, also nodding to Messi’s off-field influence.

Inter Miami vs Nashville SC lineups, team news

Tata Martino’s squad is slowly but surely recovering from its early-season fitness concerns, but a host of Inter Miami players remain sidelined with injuries.

Three players have suffered hamstring strains, as defender Serhiy Kryvtsov, winger Robert Taylor, and striker Leo Campana are all out for another few weeks, while new signing Federico Redondo is also missing as he recovers from an MCL tear. Jordi Alba was ruled out by Martino in the run-up to the match thanks to a hamstring injury of his own, and will miss at least two games.

Ian Fray is nearing a return from an ACL tear but will be brought along very slowly as it’s the youngster’s third of his career, while Facundo Farias is done for the year with a cruciate ligament injury of his own in preseason.

Inter Miami starting lineup (4-3-3): Callender (GK) — Weigandt, Aviles, Freire, Negri — Gressel, Busquets, D. Ruiz — Messi, Suarez, D. Gomez.

Inter Miami subs (8): Dos Santos (GK), Allen, Sailor, Sunderland, Bright, Afonso, Cremaschi, Borgelin.

The biggest injury problem for Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith is the absence of steady defender Walker Zimmerman who remains sidelined following non-invasive knee surgery in mid-March, but he should be on his way back soon.

Wide forward Tyler Boyd is also missing and not expected back for another few weeks as he recovers from a hip injury, while they’re also without U.S. international full-back Shaq Moore who is out with a hip injury as well. Randall Leal makes the Nashville squad for the first time in 2024 after recovering from a groin injury.

Nashville SC starting lineup (3-5-2): Panicco (GK) — Bauer, MacNaughton, Lovitz — Muyl, Davis, Yearwood, Godoy, Shaffelburg — Mukhtar, Surridge.

Nashville SC subs (8): Willis (GK), Maher, Sejdic, Leal, Bunbury, Washington, Anunga, Kallman.

How to watch Inter Miami vs Nashville SC

This MLS match, along with every other game through the entirety of the 2024 regular season and postseason, will be available to stream on MLS Season Pass from Apple TV.

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