Hany Mukhtar scored in the opening minutes of each half and Nashville SC dominated throughout on the way to an easy 5-1 win over Inter Miami on Wednesday in an Eastern Conference match at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nashville (11-3-11, 44 points) did plenty to dictate the game, beating Miami for the first time in three meetings this season and to remain in second place in the East with nine regular-season matches to play.
Inter Miami (9-11-5, 32 points) dropped in its second consecutive match, both at home and both in blowout fashion, having been drubbed 4-0 by the New York Red Bulls last week. Miami remains in ninth place in the East, three points below the playoff line, with nine matches left.
Nashville stunned the home side when Mukhtar leaped to head home a crossing pass from Alistair Johnston in the sixth minute. Johnston's cross from the right side traveled across the goal mouth to the far post, where Mukhtar was waiting, and his header gave Miami goalkeeper Nick Marsman no chance to make a save.
The visitors doubled their advantage on Walker Zimmerman's 39th-minute header. The scoring play came when Marsman came well off his line to try to corral a crossing pass off a Nashville corner kick, but he could not grab the ball before Nashville's Anibal Godoy dribbled it away. Godoy passed back into the box, where Zimmerman made short work of his opportunity.
Miami's best scoring chance of the first half came in the final minutes when Gonzalo Higuain hit the left post after a nifty pass by Rodolfo Pizarro.
Mukhtar scored his second goal three minutes into the second half. Marsman again came off his line to try to make a save but could only get a hand on the ball before Mukhtar ripped a right-footed shot into the net.
Higuain finally got Miami on the board in the 64th minute by converting a wonderful give-and-go pass from Pizarro. But the Herons could not sustain their momentum, as Nashville's Randall Leal outfought two Miami defenders to score in the 70th minute after an assist from Alex Muyl.
Miami defender Gregore was sent off in the 86th minute after receiving a second yellow card.
Johnston added the final goal six minutes into second-half stoppage time on an assist from Jhonder Cadiz.
--Field Level Media