Messi forced to exit the field during Inter Miami match against Toronto.

Lionel Messi’s comeback to the field with Inter Miami against Toronto FC on Wednesday didn’t unfold as expected. The football legend had to be replaced after a mere 37 minutes, leaving both fans and pundits in a state of bewilderment.

Messi’s premature exit, along with the departure of his teammate Jordi Alba, cast a shadow over what should have been a commanding 4-0 triumph for Miami.

Messi and Alba, former comrades from Barcelona, were notably absent from Miami’s prior match due to “muscle fatigue,” as stated by Coach Gerardo Martino. This decision to rest the star pair was a strategic move aimed at preserving their fitness and managing their playing time amid a demanding schedule, which includes the upcoming U.S. Open Cup final on September 27.

Both players left the field without apparent contact injuries but displayed signs of discomfort related to lower-body issues. Messi’s early substitution raised eyebrows, particularly considering Miami’s impressive unbeaten record of 11-0-1 across all competitions when he’s in the lineup, including a 3-0-1 record in regular-season matches.

Stepping in as Messi’s replacement, Robert Taylor of Miami delivered a stellar performance. Taylor notched a brace and even contributed an assist during the match. His remarkable display in the second half underscored the depth of Miami’s roster.

In the 54th minute, Taylor exhibited his exceptional ball control skills, creating an opportunity to unleash a shot from the edge of the box. Later, in the 87th minute, a crafty chip-pass from Facundo Farias orchestrated Taylor’s second goal of the evening, a remarkable strike from a challenging angle. In the midst of these moments, Taylor provided an assist to Benjamin Cremaschi in the 73rd minute, who contributed to Miami’s fourth goal.

Despite the early substitutions and interruptions stemming from injuries, Miami successfully secured the victory, edging closer to the Eastern Conference playoff threshold. While the win was a significant achievement, the well-being of Messi and Alba remains a foremost concern for the team, particularly with the crucial U.S. Open Cup final approaching.

Toronto FC also grappled with injury setbacks during the match, losing Victor Vazquez and Brandon Servania to injuries within the opening 26 minutes. These early stoppages led to nine minutes of additional time in the first half.

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Written by Abu Bakar

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