Suarez, Inter Miami draw with Nashville at Champions Cup; Messi avoids injury


March 8 (UPI) -- Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez used his head for a stoppage-time equalizer, helping Inter Miami salvage a draw with Nashville SC in the first leg of their Champions Cup Round of 16 matchup.

Fellow Herons striker Lionel Messi also avoided major injury in the match after sustaining what appeared to be a gruesome leg wound in the second half of the 2-2 draw Thursday in Nashville.

Suarez logged a goal and assist for the Herons. Messi also scored. Coyotes striker Jacob Shaffelburg scored twice in the first-leg draw.

The second-leg meeting will be Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Nashville drew first blood in the 4th minute. Right back Shaquell Moore dribbled the ball above the Herons box to spark that score. He then sent a pass to his left, finding Shaffelburg.

The Canadian winger touched the ball ahead with his left boot, before using the same foot to blast a shot over the left shoulder of Herons goalie Drake Callender.

Messi and the Herons threatened several times, but could not net a first-half equalizer. Shaffelburg doubled the Coyotes lead in the 46th minute.

Shaffelburg dribbled in the top corner of the box before shifting the ball onto his right foot. He then ripped an 18-yard shot into the upper right corner of the net for a 2-0 edge.

Messi cut the deficit in half in the 52nd minute. Suarez received a pass inside the box to start that sequence. He then passed back to Messi, who ripped a long-range shot into the lower-left corner of the net.

The Herons appeared to score an equalizer in the 57th minute, but that goal by midfielder Diego Gomez was disallowed because of an offside call.

Messi then went down with what looked to be a serious injury in the 77th minute. The Argentine striker ran to contest a pass by defender Lukas MacNaughton during that sequence. Messi planted his left leg as MacNaughton brought down his right after launching his clearance.

MacNaughton's leg then came back down, with his foot landing just below Messi's knee. Messi's ankle and leg then bent awkwardly as he fell to the ground. The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner held onto the leg and remained on the ground until being tended to by trainers. He then returned and finished the game.

The Coyotes appeared score their third goal in the 83rd minute, but that Shaquell Moore strike was disallowed because of an offside call.

Suarez then played hero with his stoppage-time header, salvaging a draw for the Herons. Midfielder Sergio Busquets received a pass in the right side of the box to set up that score. He then chipped a pass toward the near post, as Suarez wrestled defenders for position.

He finished the play by jumping and flicking his header into the left side of the net.

The Herons will attempt to extend their unbeaten start (2-0-1) to the MLS season against CF Montreal at 5 p.m. EST Sunday in Fort Lauderdale. They will contest the second leg of their Round of 16 matchup with the Coyotes at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Chase Stadium, their home field.

Herons manager Tata Martino said Messi was tired after their win over the Coyotes. He did not declare his status for their Herons' upcoming matches, but said he is "fine" after Thursday's collision.

"Leo finished the game," Martino said. "He's tired [and] he's fatigued. That's why he was getting [leg] massages. But he is fine."