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MLS 2023-24: Messi sets assists record as Inter Miami trounce NY Red Bulls

Washington: Lionel Messi set a new Major League Soccer (MLS) record of five assists in a single match as leaders Inter Miami romped to a 6-2 home win over New York Red Bulls. Luis Suarez’s hat-trick was relegated to a support act as Messi, who also scored a goal, continued his outstanding run of form for the Florida outfit on Saturday.

New York went ahead on the half-hour at Chase stadium through Dante Vanzeir, who thumped home a first-time effort after Wikelman Carmon’s shot cannoned off the far post.

Matias Rojas put Inter Miami on level terms by receiving Messi’s pass before curling a 20-yard effort into the top-right corner, reports Xinhua.

Rojas and Suarez then linked up before the latter’s deft pass released Messi, who gave his side the lead by firing home from 12 yards.

Inter Miami extended their advantage just after the hour through the impressive Rojas, who ran onto Messi’s sublime through ball and sent a delightful chip over the head of goalkeeper Carlos Coronel.

The almost telepathic understanding between Messi and Suarez was on display as the Uruguayan striker sent an acrobatic volley into the far corner after the Inter Miami captain’s lofted cross.

The former Barcelona teammates were irrepressible, and they again exchanged a series of slick passes before Suarez stroked home his side’s fifth goal.

Suarez, who joined Inter Miami on a free transfer in January, added to New York’s misery by running onto Messi’s pass and rounding Coronel before threading home his third goal from the tightest of angles.

The visitors grabbed a late consolation goal when Emil Forsberg converted from the spot after Marcelo Weigandt’s mistimed challenge on John Tolkin.

The result leaves Inter Miami three points clear of second-placed Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference standings while New York Red Bulls remain fourth with 17 points.

Messi has now scored 12 goals and provided 11 assists in 11 games for Inter Miami this season while Suarez has 12 goals and seven assists in 15 outings.

Martino hails Messi-Suarez double act

Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino hailed the attacking partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the team’s 6-2 home rout of New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

“Messi always makes the difference,” Martino told a news conference after the match at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. “Today the partnership between him and Luis in the second half worked very well, like in old times. They really were very influential in the game.”

The other player to impress for Inter Miami was Paraguayan midfielder Matias Rojas, who scored twice and also showed a remarkable understanding with Messi. “The truth is that everyone had a phenomenal impact in the game, but Leo probably did something historic with five assists and a goal,” Martino said.

“I always say the same thing: it is redundant to talk about him [Messi] because it seems like he always does something new. If something was missing it was this: having an impact on the six goals that a team scores. It’s going to be difficult to see something like this again.”

Despite the emphatic nature of the win, Martino said his team had plenty of scope for improvement. “I think that in the first half, we couldn’t find the passes between the lines,” he said. “We couldn’t advance on the outside either because of the way they were set up. We knew we had to take some more risks and move the ball with more authority, which we did in the second half,” the Argentine coach added.


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