Without Messi, Inter Miami unravels late, falls 2-1 to Monterrey in Champions Cup

Jorge Rodríguez scored the go-ahead goal in the 89th minute as Mexico’s Monterrey rallied past Inter Miami — playing without Lionel Messi — for a 2-1 win in the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal
Monterrey midfielder Jorge Rodríguez, second from left, celebrates with midfielder Maximiliano Meza (11), forward Jesús Manuel Corona (12) and another teammate after scoring a goal against Inter Miami during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Monterrey midfielder Jorge Rodríguez, second from left, celebrates with midfielder Maximiliano Meza (11), forward Jesús Manuel Corona (12) and another teammate after scoring a goal against Inter Miami during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Lionel Messi remained sidelined with a hamstring injury Wednesday night as his Inter Miami team built a one-goal lead against Mexico's Monterrey then came unraveled in the second half, losing 2-1 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal.

Messi, who missed his fourth straight game because of a right hamstring injury, has not played since March 13, and also missed Argentina’s exhibitions last month against El Salvador and Costa Rica.

It isn't yet clear when the 36-year-old Messi will return. Inter Miami and Monterrey are scheduled to play the second leg of the quarterfinal in Mexico on April 10. Inter Miami will also play an MLS match against Colorado on Saturday.

"Every day he's feeling better. It would have been too much of a risk today,” Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said through an interpreter after the match. He added that Messi will continue to be game-to-game.

Monterrey's Jorge Rodríguez broke a 1-1 tie in the 89th minute Wednesday when he sent a shot into the top right corner past goalkeeper Drake Callender after a sloppy pass by Miami's Diego Gómez, spoiling a strong first half from Inter Miami in its toughest match of the season.

Tomas Avilés tapped in Miami's only goal off a corner kick by Julian Gressel in the 19th minute. It was the 19-year-old Avilés' first goal of the season and came during a stout first-half defensive effort that held Monterrey at bay.

But Inter Miami came unraveled after David Ruíz received a second yellow card and was sent off for unnecessary contact in the 65th minute. Miami played the final 25 minutes of the match down a man.

Monterrey quickly took advantage, tying the score less than five minutes later on a goal from Maximiliano Meza, who shot past Callender on a second attempt after a corner kick by Sergio Canales.

“The first thing is that we didn’t have enough legs to do the last 20 minutes,” Martino said. “And playing against a team like Monterrey, you have to be in very good physical shape. ... It seemed that we were going to have moments in the game in which we would be dominated, we didn’t suffer it as much as I thought, but when you have to do the last 20 minutes with one player short, that became a problem.”

Callender had seven saves, while Monterrey's Esteban Andrada had one.

Miami's Robert Taylor left with an injury after going down and grabbing his leg in pain in the 36th minute.

___

AP MLS: https://apnews.com/hub/major-league-soccer

Monterrey midfielder Maximiliano Meza (11) takes a shot on the goal during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Inter Miami, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Monterrey midfielder Maximiliano Meza, right, celebrates his goal against Inter Miami during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender (1) defends a shot on the goal by Monterrey defender Sebastian Vegas (20) during the second half of the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions Cup soccer quarterfinal, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Inter Miami midfielder Tomás Aviles, second from left, is congratulated after scoring a goal against Monterrey during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Inter Miami midfielder Robert Taylor (16) runs with the ball as Monterrey midfielder Erick Aguirre (14) defends during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Inter Miami midfielder Robert Taylor (16) walks off the field after an injury during the first half of the team's CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Monterrey, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Inter Miami midfielder Diego Gómez (20) tries to control the ball as Monterrey midfielder Luis Romo defends during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal soccer match Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP