Aleksandar Mitrovic, Al Hilal

Messi and Suarez Shine, but defensive woes haunt Inter Miami in Riyadh Cup loss to Al-Hilal

Al Hilal vs Inter Miami: An Overview

Saudi Pro League leaders Al Hilal hosted Inter Miami as part of the Riyadh Season Cup, a friendly competition organized in between the SPL season and before the MLS season.

The hosts entered this game on the back of a scintillating run of form, winning each of their last 20 games across competitions. They were also in great goalscoring form, bagging 16 goals in their last five, conceding just once. Manager Jorge Jesus and his men earned a seven-point lead midway through the season and were looking to do better in the second half. This game proved to be the ideal opportunity for Al Hilal to experiment.

Inter Miami, on the other hand, entered this contest on the back of a worrying run of form. Prior to this game, they had failed to register a single win in their last 10 games, losing six times and drawing four times. They were also in poor goalscoring form, netting just thrice in their last five matches across competitions. Despite most of their stars available, Miami were the clear underdogs heading into this match.

Al Hilal vs Inter Miami: Match Report

SPL leaders Al Hilal recorded a relatively straightforward 4-3 win over Inter Miami in the Riyadh Season Cup on Tuesday, January 30.

Al Hila began the game in dominant fashion as they raced into a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic provided an assist for marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic to fire his team 1-0 ahead after just 10 minutes. Abdullah Al-Hamdan then applied a clinical finish from outside the box that saw the ball roll into the bottom-left corner with precision to make it 2-0 just three minutes later.

With 65% of the ball in the first half, the hosts created several chances. They attempted a total of four shots on target from seven attempts. However, Inter Miami, too, had their fair share of attacks. Former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez brought them back into the game after 34 minutes with an opportunistic finish to make it 2-1. However, Al Hilal restored their two-goal cushion.

Al-Hamdan turned provider this time, setting up teammate Michael to make it 3-1 on the cusp of half-time which saw Al Hilal restore their lead.

Lionel Messi then single-handedly brought Inter Miami back into the game in the second half, playing a part in creating two goals in two minutes. First, he slotted in a penalty in the 54th minute after David Ruiz was fouled. A minute later, Messi provided an assist to Ruiz, who scored to level the game under incredible circumstances.

Such was Lionel Messi’s impact that an incredible co-incidence followed moments after he left the pitch in the 88th minute to be replaced by Robert Taylor. Yasir Al-Shahrani played Malcom through on goal and the Brazilian scored the winner less than a minute after the Argentine was subbed off!

Inter Miami had no means of mounting a late comeback and fell to a 4-3 defeat to Al Hilal after an entertainment-packed 90 minutes.

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Al Hilal vs Inter Miami: Top 3 Players

1.     Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Al Hilal) – 9/10

Sergeh Milinkovic-Savic, Al Hilal
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in action for Al Hilal (Credit: Getty)

With a match rating of 9/10, Milinkovic-Savic ended the game as the best player on the pitch statistically. The midfielder had an incredible 131 touches of the ball and played a dominant role in the game for Al Hilal.

He passed the ball with 87% accuracy, including three key passes and eight long balls. This included an assist he gave for Mitrovic to open the scoring. The Serbian midfielder also completed five out of six attempted dribbles. His presence in midfield was felt immensely as Milinkovic-Savic won 11 duels, making three interceptions.

2.     Malcom (Al Hilal) – 8.5/10

Malcom played the entirety of the match for Al Hilal and had a great game. He put in incredible effort throughout and capped it off by scoring the winning goal in the 88th minute.

The Brazilian passed the ball with 91% accuracy, including three key passes. He also attempted three shots but just one was on target. Malcom completed both his dribble attempts and won three of his four duels in an encouraging outing.

3.     Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) – 8/10

Messi played nearly the entire game but his best spell came shortly after play resumed post half-time. He first stepped up and converted a penalty in the 54th minute, before setting up David Ruiz to level the game just one minute later.

The superstar Argentine passed the ball with 79% accuracy, including one key pass. He also won six duels and completed all four of his dribble attempts. Messi also scored with his only shot of the game.

Al Hilal vs Inter Miami: Match Point

Lionel Messi, Inter Miami
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring a penalty for Inter Miami (Credit: Getty)

Usually when teams have a history of facing each other consistently, patterns of results begin to form and slowly show themselves. However, since this was the first-ever meeting between Al Hilal and Inter Miami, there was no history to tell us about the fixture.

Hosts Al Hilal played the game on home soil and had a tremendous backing of fans from all over the country. Meanwhile, Inter Miami fans were basically Lionel Messi fans who came to catch a glimpse of the superstar.

However, despite the scoreline giving the game an exhibition feel, Al Hilal played Miami off the pitch. They had 64% possession overall and conceded just three shots on target, of which one was a penalty. The hosts also completed nearly twice (616) the amount of passes Miami completed (353).

Overall, it was a dominant win masked by the illusion of a close scoreline.

ALSO READ: Al Hilal vs Inter Miami Player Ratings as Messi’s Team Faces Defeat.