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Messi-less Miami lose U.S. Open Cup final to Houston

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Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami watches from the stands against the Houston Dynamo during the 2023 U.S. Open Cup Final at DRV PNK Stadium on September 27, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo: AFP

The Houston Dynamo defeated Inter Miami 2-1 to win the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday with an injured Lionel Messi watching from the stands at DRV PNK Stadium.

Without Messi and his former Barcelona team-mate Jordi Alba, Miami struggled to compete with an enterprising Houston and went in 2-0 down at the break.

Houston grabbed the lead in the 24th minute with a perfect counter-attack ending with Brazilian Artur feeding the overlapping Griffin Dorsey who blasted in at the near post.

French forward Amine Bassi doubled the lead from the penalty spot nine minutes later after DeAndre Yedlin had brought down Nelson Quinones.

Houston thought that they had scored a third after the break but Quinones’ effort was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.

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Substitute Josef Martinez gave Miami some late hope with a left-foot strike in stoppage time after latching on to a ball from Argentine Facundo Farias.

But despite some late pressure, it was too little, too late from Miami and Houston deservedly won their second U.S. Open Cup to add to their triumph in 2018.

Miami had won the Leagues Cup last month with Messi prominently involved but they must now battle to make the Major League Soccer play-offs with uncertainty over their Argentine star’s fitness.

-AFP

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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