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Inter Miami 2-0 Real Salt Lake: Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez set up MLS goals – but Martino warns players over ‘bad’ half

Lionel Messi playing football for Inter Miami

Lionel Messi set up his side’s first goal of the 2024 MLS season and Luis Suarez scored on his debut as Inter Miami won 2-0 at home to Real Salt Lake in the opening match of their campaign.

Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi went close twice early on, including a curling free-kick which was cleared off the line by visiting defender Justen Glad.

Messi set up Robert Taylor’s 39th-minute goal by collecting a pass from Sergio Busquets and feeding the Finland international, who scored with a first-time strike.

The Argentina captain also had a part in the second goal seven minutes from time, receiving a pass from Diego Gomez beyond the halfway line, surging towards the box and finding former Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez.

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Uruguay forward Suarez, who agreed to join Inter in December, duly gave Gomez an opportunity the Paraguay midfielder took to seal victory.

Inter coach Gerardo Martino was satisfied but suggested his players had produced a patchy performance during a game in which they shaded possession and allowed their opponents to match their shot tally of 16.

“We played well in the first half,” said Martino. “Above all, we didn’t suffer defensively. We could have scored one more goal. It was a first half that was expected from the team.

“It was a game that had two decidedly different halves. We will have to continue close to what happened in the first and get as far away from possible from what happened in the second. It is a game to review.”

Messi and Suarez ‘went one on one’

“The performance did not deteriorate because of my changes, but because we started the second half badly and made many mistakes early on,” reflected Martino. “But it will give everyone more confidence when we have a full squad available.

“Sometimes what happens when you go ahead is that your opponents attack with more numbers, and that frees Luis and Leo to go one on one. We have to continue building week by week.”

US international Julian Gressel also made his debut for Inter, having joined the club as a free agent in January.

Inter are next in action when they visit LA Galaxy at at Dignity Health Sports Park on Monday (1.30am GMT).

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