“After defeating FC Cincinnati in a tense penalty kick shootout that followed a 3-3 draw, “INTER MIAMI CF ADVANCES TO 2023 LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP FINAL

Inter Miami CF defeated FC Cincinnati in a 5-4 penalty shootout to advance to the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Cincinnati, Ohio (August 23, 2022) – On a Saturday night that witnessed the exhilaration of their League Cup triumph, Inter Miami CF propelled themselves into the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by outdueling FC Cincinnati in a 5-4 penalty shootout victory, following a riveting 3-3 draw.

The electric atmosphere of TQL Stadium played host to a captivating spectacle as both teams poured their hearts into the match, entertaining a crowd of 25,513 on a Wednesday night in what turned out to be an enthralling final. Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi and Leonardo Campana, the current World Cup champion, equalized the score.

Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi and Leonardo Campana, equalized the score.

An hour after finding themselves trailing 2-0, the current World Cup champion, Lionel Messi, joined forces with Leonardo Campana to provide a stunning twist by equalizing for Inter Miami. In a thrilling sequence of events, Joseph Martínez, a former Open Cup champion from 2019, momentarily pushed the Herons ahead 3-2 in the 93rd minute.

However, Cincinnati’s Yuya Kubo, in the 114th minute, converted a game-changing equalizer to force the match into a penalty kick tiebreaker. During this nerve-wracking shootout, Miami’s goalkeeper, Drake Callender, played the role of the hero by thwarting Cincinnati’s Nick Hagglund in the fifth round, consequently sealing Benjamin Krembschi’s ticket to Inter Miami’s first-ever U.S. Open Cup final and the second championship match of 2023.

With the outcome decided, Inter Miami now stands poised to square off against the victor of the Houston Dynamo/Real Salt Lake face-off in the Open Cup final on September 27, with ambitions of clinching their second trophy this year.

Undeterred by temperatures soaring past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, both teams exhibited unyielding valor during the opening 15 minutes. Despite the searing heat, they maintained an impressive display of control over the ball, setting the tone for a fiercely contested match.

Emboldened by their fervent home supporters, FC Cincinnati managed to break the deadlock in the 18th minute through a masterful performance by Lucho Acosta. The Argentine playmaker orchestrated a move down the left flank, culminating in a perfectly placed strike to notch the opening goal.

The attack, progressing down the left, saw a well-timed pass from Acosta that eluded Inter Miami’s Tomás Áviles but found its mark with Aaron Boupendza, who capitalized on the opportunity. His shot ricocheted off the post, enabling Acosta to maintain his run and tap the ball over the line before eventually colliding with the post.

Responding with determination, Inter Miami nearly drew level three minutes later, courtesy of a well-placed pass by Messi to Diego Gómez inside the penalty area. However, Cincinnati’s goalkeeper, Alec Kann, showcased his agility with an acrobatic save to deny the Paraguayan striker’s effort, preserving his team’s lead.

Unfortunately for Inter Miami, Cincinnati’s defensive line stopped an equalizer.

As the first half drew to a close, Inter Miami launched two final attempts to alter the scoreline. Following a period of sustained pressure, Brazilian midfielder Jean Mota unleashed a 25-yard attempt that veered narrowly wide of the mark, just as added time began.

Within two minutes, USMNT full-back DeAndre Yedlin demonstrated his defensive prowess, intercepting a play and locating Gómez on the right. Unfortunately for Inter Miami, Gómez’s subsequent header collided with Cincinnati’s defensive line, preventing an equalizer.

The second half commenced with a resurgence from Inter Miami, who swiftly halved the deficit as Brandon Vazquez found the back of the net in the early stages.

Emerging from the half-time break, Miami’s defense initiated a counterattack, and the ball ultimately fell to Santiago Arías on the left flank. Arías’s low cross into the box connected with Vazquez, whose strike rebounded off the post and nestled into the goal, bringing the score to 2-1 in favor of Cincinnati.

The final breakthrough came in 90+7th minute when Messi and campana equalize the goal

Undaunted by the setback, Inter Miami’s persistence paid off as they orchestrated a swift response. In the 53rd minute, Messi threaded a pass to Gómez on the left side of the penalty area, prompting a foul from Fárias. Despite this, Cincinnati’s goalkeeper, Kann, displayed his shot-stopping abilities once again, denying the Paraguayan striker’s attempt and maintaining his team’s slender lead.

In the closing moments of regular time, FC Cincinnati’s lead was threatened as Inter Miami pressed forward, searching for an equalizer. The breakthrough finally arrived in the 90+7th minute when Messi and Campana combined forces once more, resulting in an equalizing goal that sent the match into extra time.

Messi’s cross from the left flank found Campana’s well-timed run, with the Ecuadorian forward rising above the defenders to head the ball past Kann, restoring parity at 2-2.

With the tempo escalating, the first half of extra time produced more drama, as Joseph Martnez capitalized on a precise assist from Messi to give Inter Miami a 3-2 lead in the 93rd minute. His emphatic shot from close range sent the fans into raptures as Miami took a late advantage.
As the match progressed into the second half of extra time, FC Cincinnati refused to concede defeat and launched a valiant bid for a comeback.

Their efforts were rewarded in the 117th minute, as Santiago Santos played a pivotal role in engineering an equalizing goal. Santos delivered a precise cross from the left, finding Fárias, who, with a well-placed header, made it 3-3 and sent the match into a thrilling penalty shootout.

The penalty shootout unfolded in nerve-wracking fashion, showcasing both the skill of the players and the determination of the goalkeepers. With the scores level, Miami’s Messi and Campana demonstrated their composure, scoring their penalties with precision.

However, Cincinnati’s resurgence was epitomized by Brandon Vazquez and Jürgen Locadia, who kept their side in contention with successful conversions.

As the shootout reached its crescendo, Miami’s goalkeeper, Callender, stepped up once again, making a crucial save from Cincinnati’s Franco Kovacevic. The stage was then set for Inter Miami’s 18-year-old rising star, Benjamin Krembschi, who confidently converted the final penalty to secure a 5-4 victory for his team, marking their passage into the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

In conclusion, the match between Inter Miami CF and FC Cincinnati served as a testament to the enduring spirit of the players and the excitement of the sport. Amidst sweltering temperatures, the teams showcased their resilience, creativity, and commitment, delivering a memorable display of footballing excellence.

The triumph for Inter Miami not only earned them a spot in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup but also reaffirmed their determination to excel on the grandest stages of the game.

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