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Messi-less Miami crushed in Atlanta

Messi-less Miami crushed in Atlanta

Inter Miami rested Lionel Messi and suffered their first defeat since the Argentine joined the club, with a 5-2 hammering at Atlanta United damaging their playoff hopes on Saturday (Sep 16).

Messi had not made the trip to Atlanta, after a busy run of games since making his Miami debut in late July.

Miami coach Gerardo Martino said after the loss that Messi and had been suffering from "muscle fatigue" and that it would have been "very reckless to bring him to play this game".

The 36-year-old had sat out Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia in La Paz on Tuesday but watched his team-mates from the bench. Messi was substituted in the final minutes of the 1-0 win over Ecuador on Sep 7, after scoring the winner, but there have been no reports of an injury.

With no Messi last week, Miami defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-2 but this time it was a very different story for Martino's team.

Miami went ahead in the 25th minute with a superbly taken goal from in-form striker Ecuadorean striker Leonardo Campana. Dixon Arroyo's shot flew out off the cross-bar and Campana chested the ball down, lost Miles Robinson with a clever touch and then volleyed home with his left foot. But the response from Atlanta, sixth in the Eastern Conference, was emphatic with three goals in the space of eight minutes.

A glancing header from French midfielder Tristan Muyamba, which struck the inside of the post, was ruled to have crossed the line by the assistant referee.

Five minutes later, Atlanta had the lead when Brazilian winger Xande Silva dribbled to the byline and his pull-back was turned into his own net by Miami defender Kamal Miller.

Miami's defence, without former Spain international left-back Jordi Alba, were reeling and the rampant Atlanta attack took full advantage, Brooks Lennon adding the third in the 44th minute with a sweetly struck shot after being set up by Caleb Wiley.

The blitz of goals left Miami with plenty to ponder at the interval and they came out strongly, pulling a goal back in the 54th minute.

Tomas Aviles' shot struck the arm of Atlanta defender Luis Abram and referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot with Campana's composed shot sending Brad Guzan the wrong way.