Josef Martinez’s bicycle kick leads Inter Miami to second consecutive draw

FORT LAUDERDALE — Independence Day fireworks filled the sky around DRV PNK Stadium Tuesday night, but they could’ve used some more pink and black to celebrate Josef Martinez’s jaw-dropping goal.

The second half substitute scored the equalizer in the 90th minute on a bicycle kick to force an Inter Miami 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew. It may have been the goal of his career, which is saying something for someone who is now tied for ninth all-time in career MLS goals.

Inter Miami interim coach Javier Morales said at Monday’s training that he was unsure if he’d bench Martinez in favor of forward Leonardo Campana. Martinez started and scored Saturday night, but perhaps inserting Campana back in the lineup after he scored twice against Columbus in April could ignite his Inter Miami squad that’s been parched of scoring.

He ultimately did that, a decision which paid off with both Campana and Martinez scoring a goal Tuesday night. It’s fitting, too, that Campana assisted on Martinez’s brilliant goal.

“Believe me,” Morales said. “it’s not easy to pick one of them every single time.”

Meanwhile, incoming Miami coach Tata Martino again watched in a stadium suite as he awaits his work papers.

Columbus came out with lots of energy and dominated the pace of play to start.

The Crew particularly attacked up the left side, almost as if they were targeting Inter Miami’s 18-year old midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi, who recorded an assist in two consecutive games entering the night. The rookie held his own, combining his speed and body to recover and intercept numerous scoring chances.

“I think he did well,” Morales said. “Players at the top level, they have to adapt and he had a great game.”

Once Inter Miami was able to win the ball back, they often found trouble. The passing was off and the timing not nearly as sharp as it was Saturday night. At times, Inter Miami played the ball like a grenade. Especially early in the game, like when Miami was on the attack outside the penalty area, and an Inter Miami player stepped in front of a pass that wasn’t intended for him and proceeded to turn the ball over seconds later.

Inter Miami fended off the Columbus attack for the first 20 minutes, until the Crew earned their second corner kick of the game in the 23rd minute. An in-swinging boot was punched away by goalkeeper Drake Callender, but landed on the foot of an unmarked Darlington Nagbe on the edge of the penalty box. The Columbus midfielder, who had scored just once in 20 games entering the night, didn’t hesitate with a vicious volley under the foot of a jumping Miami challenger and past a sprawling Callender.

In the 36th minute, a brilliant line-breaking Columbus pass to streaking defender Mohamed Farsi put him in alone, but a heavy touch allowed Callander to challenge and deflect a shot attempt. Farsi corralled his own rebound for a second attempt, but a sliding Miami defender steered away the ball as it approached the bottom left corner.

That play appeared to wake Inter Miami up as they finally started to pushback into halftime with a 1-0 hole.

Inter Miami finally broke through when they won a corner kick in the 57th minute. Forward/midfielder Robert Taylor gave it a run from the corner, and perfectly found the head of Campana to knock it into the net.

Miami played with momentum from there out, oozing with energy that was rarely found in the first half.

That was until Columbus forward Christian “Superman” Ramirez arrived in the 69th minute.

A crossing pass from forward Cucho Hernandez snuck past Inter Miami’s defense and connected with the foot of a sliding Ramirez on the back post. Callender had no chance.

Inter Miami pushed until the end with lots of pressure on Columbus’ defense. When most hope was lost in the 90th minute, Martinez came through with the clutch, acrobatic goal to tie it at 2-2. Campana put the pass on a rope, wiggling free from a defender along the end line in order to turn and center the ball.

“When I’m on the bench, it’s more difficult (for me) to score,” Campana said. “I’m really happy to help the team today and hopefully I can complete that.”

Saturday and Tuesday are the first time Inter Miami (5-13-2, last in the Eastern Conference) has earned points in back-to-back games since early May.

“Every single team that is coming here, we’re gonna push,” Morales said. “We’re gonna fight and we’re gonna go for the win.”

Inter Miami will hit the road for two MLS matches this Saturday and 15, before returning home for Lionel Messi’s expected debut July 21 in the Leagues Cup.