Inter Miami finally win without Messi as Suarez 'defines the game' from the bench

Uruguayan striker comes on to score twice in 3-1 MLS win over DC United

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Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino praised Luis Suarez for "defining the game" after the Uruguayan striker came off the bench to score twice in a 3-1 win over DC United in Major League Soccer on Saturday.

Miami had failed to win their last seven games without Lionel Messi, a run dating to September, and the Argentine talisman was absent again for the game at Audi Field. But despite that record, Martino left Suarez and Jordi Alba on the bench.

Jared Stroud put for DC United ahead, latching onto a Mateusz Kilch pass and firing a first-time shot past Drake Callender.

The lead lasted only for 10 minutes, though, with Leonardo Campana, leading the Miami attack in place of Suarez, seeing a header saved by Alex Bono but then, after DC failed to clear, turning in after the ball was scooped to him by Federico Redondo.

Sergio Busquets delivered a superb cross-field pass to set Robert Taylor in down the left but his low drive clipped the outside of the post on the stroke of half-time.

Suarez was brought on in the 62nd minute and the 37-year-old forward was to settle the contest. Just 10 minutes after coming on, Suarez finished off a fine move, turning in a low cross from Campana at the back post.

Then Diego Gomez, Miami's powerful Paraguayan midfielder, won the ball in the centre of the pitch and broke forward, finding Suarez, whose route to goal was initially blocked. But he was able to find space for a chip that Bono clawed at but was unable to stop crossing the line.

United then had Pedro Santos sent off after he brought down substitute Shanyder Borgelin in the final minute.

Martino said Suarez's performance had gone perfectly according to his plan.

"We had talked about him having half an hour and he defined the game," said the Argentine coach. "One of the coach's tasks, with these players, is to convince them when to stop, when to allow themselves a break and not risk injury.

"I try to get them to make a contribution not only when they play 90 minutes but less, and boy, did he do that today."

Martino said Messi's leg injury was being dealt with "week to week" and he refused to be drawn on his potential involvement in Argentina's upcoming friendlies.

"It is clear that with him there is an objective that he can play in the quarter-finals of the Concacaf Champions Cup. We're not going to take any risks," he said.

Miami will play Mexican club Monterrey in the regional competition on April 3.

Updated: March 17, 2024, 4:42 AM