Tata Martino reflects on Inter Miami’s 2-2 draw with Nashville SC

Inter Miami boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino praised his players for their resilience and determination to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Nashville SC in the Champions Cup Round of 16.

It seemed as if the Herons were all set to lose their first competitive match of the 2024 season after Jacob Shaffelburg’s brace put Nashville in a commanding 2-0 lead with roughly 45 minutes left to play. However, Miami’s superstar Lionel Messi stepped up once again with a left-footed curling effort that found its way past Joe Willis and into the back of the net.

Nashville had ample opportunities to kill the game off as extra time neared, including a controversial offside call on Shaq Moor’s disallowed goal, but the Herons remained in striking distance due to the hosts’ inability to finish off chances.

Luis Suarez added his third goal in two games played deep into extra time to complete the comeback for the Herons and essentially restart the tie ahead of the second leg in south Florida on March 13.

Martino, however, was aware that his team were second-best in the opening stages of the first and second halves.

“They (Nashville) came in more determined than us,” Martino said in Spanish after contest. “We understood that from the beginning we were going to be able to control the game, circulated the ball well, but maybe we didn’t do it with the intensity that the game deserved, with the intensity that the opponent deserved.”

On the flip side, the former Barcelona and Mexico national team head coach hailed his team’s ability to claw back into the contest at GEODIS Park and recalled how they’ve already done it once this season in MLS action.

“We were rewarded for our insistence. It leaves us in a good position for the second leg. These games against Nashville have always been tough and even, and we expect the same [in the second leg next Wednesday], but with the peace of mind that our search was correct. It was not a disorderly search,” he said.

“Here, as well as at LA (against the Galaxy), when it seemed hopeless, the team doesn’t let down, keeps looking for the goal and we got the prize, which was deserved because we did enough not to lose,” Martino continued.

“This is a 180-minute game…we have 90 minutes more to play at home. We put the game at risk in the early stages of the first half and the second half. There were 10 or 15 minutes in each half that could have cost us the game. For about an hour we controlled the ball well and had chances, but we also could have been down 3-0 seven or eight minutes into the second half.”

Before the Herons return to the most prestigious club competition in North American football, the south Florida club play host to CF Montreal in league action Sunday afternoon. The Eastern Conference matchup sees Josef Martinez take on his old club as he tallied 12 goals in 40 appearances for Miami in 2023.

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