LAFC vs Inter LAFC may be used to playing in front of the Los Angeles spotlight, but with celebrities packing BMO Stadium to watch Lionel Messi and Inter Miami come to town, it was the visitors who stole the show in a 3-1 win.
Facundo Farias opened the scoring in the 14th minute, and Messi assisted second-half goals by Jordi Alba and Leonardo Campana as Inter Miami picked up an enormous three points on the road at the defending MLS champions.
Across the first 45 minutes, it felt as if LAFC did everything but score, as Denis Bouanga was foiled multiple times in front of net, sometimes by Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender and others by his own poor finishing. Farias’ opener was against the run of play, and at halftime Steven Cherundolo will have felt their own moment was coming.
Yet after the break, Inter Miami gained further influence, and profited again as Messi delivered a sensational pass to Alba to double the lead. Then, Messi assisted the third and final goal as Inter Miami slammed the door shut with Campana’s 83rd-minute strike.
The three points gives Inter Miami a massive jolt at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, as they move to 25 for the season, still in 14th but now just eight points below the playoff line. LAFC drop to third in the Western Conference, passed by the Seattle Sounders but still holding games in hand.
LAFC (4-3-3, right to left): 77. McCarthy (GK) — 30. Palencia, 33. Long, 14. Chiellini (Murillo, 54′), 24. Hollingshead — 23. Acosta (Tillman , 46′), 6. Sanchez (Krastev, 81′), 19. Bogusz — 10. Vela, 9. M. Gonzalez (Olivera, 62′), 99. Bouanga.
Inter Miami (3-5-2, right to left): 1. Callender (GK) — 6. Aviles, 27. Kryvtsov, 31. Miller — 2. Yedlin, 8. D. Gomez (Ulloa, 86′), 5. Busquets, 30. Cremaschi (Arroyo, 74′), 18. Alba (Allen, 82′) — 10. Messi, 11. Farias (Campana, 74′).
LAFC vs Inter Miami live updates, highlights, commentary
FULLTIME: LAFC 1-3 Inter Miami
A comprehensive performance by Inter Miami in one of the toughest places to play in Major League Soccer. They survived a ferocious storm across the first 45 minutes, even grabbing the opener against the run of play. Then, Inter Miami improved after the break, and were good for their two second-half goals as they put the game away.
Three enormous points in the MLS playoff race for Inter Miami, who pull now to within just eight points of the postseason spots. Can they do it? There’s just nine games to go!
LAFC vs Inter Miami: Second Half
90+4 min: Chance, LAFC! It’s just not Denis Bouanga’s night. On another corner, the delivery is headed to Bouanga at the far post, but his volley is blasted over the crossbar. It’s his eighth shot, but the Gabon international has nothing to show for it.
90+1 min: GOAL! LAFC! Hang on! Is there something in this? Inter Miami, the most vulnerable counter-attack defense in the league, is struck by that bug again as Ryan Hollingshead heads in a corner as stoppage time begins.
86th min: Victor Ulloa comes on to replace Diego Gomez. The latter is booked for taking too long to depart the pitch. Then moments later Denis Bouanga is booked.
83rd min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! Lionel Messi finds Leonardo Campana to put the game away! The two run a two-on-one counter-attack, and while Messi wants to take it himself, he gets the ball stuck at his feet under pressure from Timothy Tillman, and so he finds Campana all alone for the curled finish inside the far post.
Messi grabs his second assist of the game, and this one is over!
82nd min: One more change for either side. LAFC change midfielders as Filip Krastev replaces Ilie Sanchez, while Inter Miami swaps full-backs as Noah Allen spells Jordi Alba.
77th min: Now Diego Palacios gets booked for hacking down DeAndre Yedlin in midfield. The referee plays advantage as Leonardo Campana and Lionel Messi attack, but once it fizzles out, Ted Unkel goes back to book Palacios while Yedlin gets treatment.
It was interesting to see what changes Tata Martino makes for this match, given the extenuating circumstances. It was conceivable that Lionel Messi would be rested from the start, given he will be heading out for international duty shortly, but he starts up front alongside Facundo Farias. The battle for the striker spot has seen Josef Martinez and Leonardo Campana both get time, but the two are sat on the bench for this match.
At center-back, Ukrainian international Serhiy Kryvtsov has missed the last two matches with a knock, but he returns in this match in a three-CB system alongside Kamal Miller and young Tomas Aviles. There were questions in midfield too, with Benja Cremaschi sat last time, but he returns alongside Diego Gomez as the two flank Sergio Busquets. David Ruiz and Victor Ulloa are the bench options, while injury returnees Jean Mota and Gregore remain on the fringes.