Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez roll back the years to lead Inter Miami past Nashville SC and into Champions Cup quarterfinals

Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez rolled back the years once again to guide Inter Miami to a 3-1 win over Nashville SC in the second leg of their Champions Cup round of 16 tie, reaching the quarterfinals 5-3 on aggregate.

The former Barcelona teammates linked up inside the opening eight minutes to give Miami the lead, still displaying a remarkable understanding for each other’s games that has evidently not waned over the years.

Suárez dummied the ball and allowed it to run through to Messi, before spinning into the box and receiving a return pass from the Argentine to slot the ball past Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis.

There was another South American connection for Miami’s second, but this time Paraguayan Diego Gómez turned provider for Messi, slaloming into the Nashville penalty area before setting up the World Cup winner to double the team’s lead.

Miami sealed its place in the quarterfinals less than 20 minutes into the second half when Robert Taylor headed home from Suárez’s pinpoint cross into the penalty area, before Sam Surridge got a late consolation goal for Nashville.

“We spent many years playing together in Barcelona and it is nice to be back together,” Suárez said of his connection with Messi, per ESPN.

“We know each other too well, we almost always know where the other is positioned, almost by heart, and we try to transfer that for the benefit of Inter Miami.

“We are enjoying this possibility of playing together again, enjoying a football that is new for me and trying to make people enjoy it. We have made a lot of sacrifice over the last 20 years and we deserve to enjoy these last few years of our career a little.”

However, it wasn’t all good news for Miami after Messi was forced off with an injury in the second half, though he didn’t appear to be struggling with a knock.

“I don’t want to take any risks, but I imagine that he won’t be available for Saturday’s game,” head coach Gerardo Martino said, per ESPN. “That’s the only thing I can say about it now. We’ll have some tests soon and we’ll see how he feels.

Inter Miami is now in the Champions Cup quarterfinals. - Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Inter Miami is now in the Champions Cup quarterfinals. - Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

“Leo has a muscle overload in his right leg. We don’t want to take any kind of risk with him. We tried to see if he could last a little longer after half-time, but it was bothering him, so we preferred to take him out the game.

“We knew when the season started that Messi was not going to play all games. If he’s not playing or we have to replace him, for me, it’s not just missing out any other player, he’s the best player of all time.”

Miami will face either Monterrey or Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Champions Cup – the UEFA Champions League equivalent for clubs playing in North America, Central America and the Caribbean – with the first leg taking place on April 2.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at