Atlanta United turns up the offense, capitalizes on Messi's absence, to beat Inter Miami 5-2

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ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United took the lead with a three-goal spree late in the first half and beat Inter Miami, playing without star Lionel Messi, 5-2 on Saturday night.

Leo Campana scored two goals for Inter Miami, which also was without defender Jordi Alba. The story of the night, however, was the absence of Messi. Messi’s absence for the Major League Soccer match was a disappointment for a crowd of 71,635 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The five goals matched Atlanta's second-highest total of the season. Atlanta beat Columbus 6-1 on March 25 and also scored five goals in a 5-1 win over Portland on March 18.

Brooks Lennon, who also had an assist, scored on the 41st minute to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead. Atlanta took a 4-2 advantage when Giorgos Giakoumakis scored on assists from Thiago Almada and Saba Lobzhanidze in the 76th minute. It was the Atlanta United-record 15th assist of the season for Almada.

Tyler Wolff's late goal pushed the lead to three goals.

Atlanta United began the night in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Columbus.

Messi has said he wants to win the MLS championship. Miami failed on its opportunity to move up from 14th in the East.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer