PHIL NEVILLE went from anger to ecstasy in the blink of an eye.
The Inter Miami boss was spitting feathers at the officials in stoppage time after the referee inadvertently got in Gonzalo Higuain’s way as the ex-Real Madrid and Chelsea ace desperately searched for a winner.
But just moments later, it was the Argentine’s older brother Federico who delivered a brilliant centre for former Aston Villa midfielder Indiana Vassilev to head home his first Miami goal in stoppage time after impressing off the bench.
Vassilev, who made six first-team appearances at Villa Park before leaving last month, was on hand to send Neville, David Beckham and the home fans wild as a much needed three points was dramatically sealed.
Nev, who has now seen Miami bag two wins and two draws from the last four following an awful six-game losing streak, is still facing a battle to reach the play-offs after a difficult start but his side are certainly on the up.
The ex-Manchester United midfielder said:”When a team scores so late on, that’s a good sign.
“We knew the subs would change the game and so it proved.
“I was incredibly angry when the ref stopped the ball and I was gone a little bit. But then Federico had it and if you ask me why we put him on, we needed quality in the final third.
“He produced some magic and Indiana was our best player in the second half. The feeling was complete joy. I wouldn’t have been happy with a draw.
“It was a reward for our efforts. We have started to believe in each other. We are now playing with an identity, the right style and we are going to enjoy this win.”
Nashville arrived in south Florida unbeaten in nine games under Neville’s fellow English boss Gary Smith and were hard to break down during a lacklustre first half in the early evening sunshine.
A lively crowd only had a Kelvin Leerdam shot on 25 minutes which was screwed wide to get excited about before former Celtic and Sunderland winger Lewis Morgan had an effort saved.
The game needed a spark – and it came from the visitors just after the restart when Charles Sapong scored from a Hany Mukhtar corner.
Neville was anxiously prowling his technical area, desperate for a flash of magic from one of his big-name stars to get Becks’ boys back in it.
And, on the hour, up popped Higuain who clinically slotted home from inside the box after being fed by the impressive Blaise Matuidi.
It was a cracking finish – and Miami’s first against the men from Music City in five attempts – from the former Chelsea frontman who took his tally to eight for the season.
Not a bad return for the 33-year-old after being axed for a lack of fitness earlier in the campaign before being welcomed back into the fold by Neville.
The Argentine ace almost sneaked in a winner late on after good work from older brother Federico but Nashville sub Jhonder Cadiz should have sealed it late on when headed wide with just keeper Nick Marsman to beat.
It was a huge miss and he was made to pay by former USA youth international Vassilev, 20, who sneaked in to nod home.
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The Bulgarian American made his senior debut for Villa in January 2020, coming off the bench in an FA Cup match against Fulham.
He went on to make six total appearances for the first team in 2020 – four in the Premier League and one each in the FA Cup and EFL Cup respectively – and reckons £100million man Jack Grealish helped him in his journey to MLS.
Vassilev said: ”Jack introduced me to what a first-team environment is like and, along with many others, helped me play like I am today.”
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