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Inter Miami CF 4-1 Hong Kong League XI (Feb 4, 2024) Game Analysis

After failing to win any of their first four preseason games, Inter Miami finally registered a victory as they beat a Hong Kong XI 4-1 on Sunday, but star attraction Lionel Messi played no part in the friendly match.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is reportedly struggling with a hamstring injury, was not included in Miami’s matchday squad despite head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino telling a news conference on Friday that Messi was “likely” to feature in the game.

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Martino also elected to leave the team’s three other former Barcelona stars — Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez and Jordi Alba — on the bench from the start in Hong Kong.

Jørn Andersen, who coached the host team that was made up of players from the Hong Kong Premier League, said his side’s lack of familiarity with each other let them down in the end. 

“It was not easy because we only had this player one day in one day training,” Andersen said. “It is not like Inter Miami. They are in the preseason. They train every day together.

“So it was not easy to choose the right player or to choose the right position. But I think out of this possibility, what we had in the front, I think we [made] a good game, especially in the first half… But it doesn’t matter [because] today was a show game, it was a great game. It was [a great experience] for every player on the field, every player off the field.

Lionel Messi watched the match from the Inter Miami bench after he was not included in the matchday squad.

Miami who took the lead when Robert Taylor shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled a shot into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area in the 40th minute.

Miami’s lead didn’t last long though as just three minutes later, Henry Anier equalised for the Hong Kong XI to ensure the teams went into the break level at 1-1.

Lawson Sunderland tapped Miami back in front when he was found in space inside the six-yard box by Ryan Sailor shortly after half-time.

Four minutes later, Leonardo Campana put Miami 3-1 up via a deflected shot that wrongfooted goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai.

Miami took full control of the match after Martino introduced Busquets and Alba just after the hour mark, with Sailor scoring the team’s fourth goal when his glancing header went in off the post. 

Sunday’s victory was Miami’s first in five preseason games. Following defeats to FC Dallas and Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, Miami were thrashed 6-0 by Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Al Nassr on Thursday, however the Portuguese forward missed the match after picking up a calf injury. 

The MLS side continue their preseason tour when they face Vissel Kobe on Wednesday in Japan

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