Messi scores in his return as Inter Miami salvages a draw against Rapids

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 7, (AP): Lionel Messi returned and helped salvage a tie for Inter Miami.
Messi scored shortly after checking in to begin the second half and helped set up Leo Afonso’s go-ahead score two minutes later. But Cole Bassett scored in the 88th minute for the Colorado Rapids and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

It was Messi’s first appearance for Inter Miami since a hamstring issue led to him getting subbed out early in the second half of a CONCACAF Champions Cup match against Nashville on March 13. He had missed four Inter Miami games since, plus two games with Argentina.

He wasted little time announcing his return on Saturday. Messi’s fourth goal in as many MLS matches this season came in the 58th minute, beating Colorado keeper Zach Steffen with a low shot that hit the left goalpost, then skidded back across the goal mouth before settling into the next just inside of the right post.

“The most important thing was that he was feeling well and feeling comfortable,” Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said of Messi. “It’s sad to give up two goals but we continue to make mistakes that cost us points. … It has to do with not reading the game right, not reading the moment, and it cost us.”

Not long after play resumed, Messi sent a pass to David Ruiz, who found Afonso all alone in front. Afonso put it home for his first MLS goal, giving Inter Miami the lead.
It didn’t last. Bassett knotted things late in regulation and Inter Miami (3-2-3) had to settle for just one point instead of three. Rafael Navarro got the first goal for Colorado (2-2-3), scoring late in the first half on a penalty kick.

A pair of fans got onto the field in the final minutes in separate incidents, presumably to try to get a selfie with Messi. They were both quickly escorted off by security, and time expired shortly after the second fan got onto the pitch.
It was a costly night for Inter Miami, which has been besieged by injuries – going back to the team’s seven-match, around-the-world preseason tour – and now has more of those to deal with. The team was without seven players Saturday, plus lost Leo Campana late in the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring issue and Afonso a few minutes after his second-half goal.

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