RIYADH: Although Lionel Messi scored a penalty and Luis Suarez scored his first goal for Inter Miami, the Major League Soccer team lost 4-3 to Saudi Pro League team Al Hilal on Monday in Riyadh.
Miami battled back to 3-3 from a 3-1 deficit early in the second half, but an intriguing friendly at the Kingdom Arena was resolved by a header from Brazilian attacker Malcom in the 88th minute. The match marked the culmination of Miami’s global preseason tour, which began on February 21 in anticipation of the Major League Soccer season.
In the tenth minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic, a former striker for Fulham and Serbian international, coolly side-footed his finish past Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender following a well-executed play that opened up the defense wide.
After 13 minutes, Saudi international striker Abdullah Al-Hamdan made it 2-0 by taking advantage of a poor clearance attempt by Miami defender Noah Allen. In the 26th minute, Sergio Busquets had a chance to give Miami a point back, but he volleyed over from close range, leaving Al Hilal goalkeeper Hbib Alwotayan unbeaten.
However, Miami’s pressure paid off in minute 34. Jordi Alba lofted a pass over the top that caught the Al Hilal defense square. Julian Gressel grabbed hold of the ball and slid into Suarez’s path, finishing into an empty goal at the far post.
The goal was originally ruled offside, but a VAR check reversed the decision, leaving the goal standing. A minute before the break, though, Al Hilal doubled their lead when Brazilian forward Michael nodded in after Callender raced off his line after Al-Hamdan crossed into the area.
After the interval, Miami came out firing and quickly tied the score with two goals in the next two minutes. In the 54th minute, after Mohammed Jahfali was unfairly ruled to have brought down David Ruiz in the area, Messi made it 3-2 from the penalty spot.
As Miami tied the score, Al Hilal was still getting over their penalty. Ruiz was open to a long cross from Messi, and the winger cut in from the left to unleash a powerful drive that tied the score at three. It appeared that the match would conclude in a draw, but two minutes left, Malcolm scored to secure the victory. On Thursday, Miami plays their second friendly against Al-Nassr, captained by Cristiano Ronaldo, in Saudi Arabia before traveling to Asia to play in Hong Kong and Japan. -AFP