Monterrey Triumphs Over Messi and Inter Miami to Progress to CONCACAF Semifinals

Brandon Vazquez, Germán Berterame, and Jesus Gallardo found the net as Monterrey defeated Inter Miami 3-1 on Wednesday evening in the second leg of their two-game series, securing a spot in the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinals.

Vazquez broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, with Berterame extending the lead in the 58th and Gallardo sealing the victory in the 64th, propelling Monterrey to the next round with a 5-2 aggregate score.

Diego Gómez managed Miami’s consolation goal in the 85th minute. Despite Messi’s presence in the lineup, he only had one scoring opportunity in the first half.

“I’m pleased as a coach to eliminate such a formidable team. Gerardo (Martino) and Leo are esteemed worldwide as a great coach and player,” remarked Rayados coach Fernando Ortiz. “While we celebrate our series win, our focus now shifts to Tigres,” Monterrey’s upcoming opponent in the Mexican Clausura.

Before the series, Ortiz expressed confidence in his team’s abilities but harbored concerns about potential referee bias due to Messi’s involvement.

“I stated that we would emerge victorious, not to disrespect Miami, but because I believed my players would rise to the occasion,” Ortiz clarified. “To me, Leo is the greatest player of all time. My intention was not to offend anyone but to offer an honest assessment.”

Unfortunately for Messi, his aspirations to lead Miami to its maiden semifinal in this competition were dashed.

“Today’s defeat dashes our hopes of progressing further in this tournament,” lamented Miami coach Gerardo Martino.

Messi, the 36-year-old Argentine, sought to add to his trophy cabinet after winning the Leagues Cup last summer and joined Miami a year ago.

“We put up a good fight in the initial game against Monterrey, but after Berterame’s goal, the tie was effectively over,” Martino conceded.

Returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him since a March 13 Champions Cup match against Nashville, Messi featured in the second half of last Saturday’s Major League Soccer game against Colorado, where he scored once in a 2-2 draw.

With the highest payroll in the Mexican league, Monterrey will face the Columbus Crew in one semifinal, while America, the reigning Mexican champion, will square off against Pachuca in the other. Pachuca secured their spot by defeating Costa Rican club Herediano 2-1 on Wednesday.

Monterrey aims to reach their first final since 2021 when they clinched their fifth CONCACAF title.

Inter Miami ended the match with ten men as Jordi Alba received a red card in the 78th minute.

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