Lionel Messi Nets Decisive Goal in Spectacular Inter Miami Debut! FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The long-awaited U.S. sporting debut exceeded all expectations on Friday, leaving fans thrilled and captivated by the memorable spectacle.
Lionel Messi, The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and World Cup champion graced the pitch, making a remarkable impression when he came off the bench. In the Leagues Cup opening for both sides, Lionel Messi gave Inter Miami a dramatic 2-1 victory over Cruz Azul in the second half’s extra time by hitting one of his signature free kicks.
The moment that every fan had been looking forward to arrived at 9:26 p.m. ET. At DRV PNK Stadium’s south stands, in front of the jubilant fans, Lionel Messi finished his warm-up routine. He confidently jogged to the halfway line while wearing his signature pink jersey to replace 18-year-old Argentine player Benjamin Cremaschi. The 54th minute saw this crucial alteration, which made Inter Miami and its ardent followers history.
Much to the delight of the crowd, Lionel Messi had been sitting on the bench up until that point. Interestingly, the Miami subs had warmed up before the game and during the first half out of sight, probably close to the locker room.
However, Messi’s historic touch on the ball came at the 55-minute, 30-second mark. But what really stole the show was his touch after the 90-minute mark.
Five seconds remain in the two minutes of additional time when the visitors foul 25 yards from the goal. The whole stadium held its breath as it anticipated the magic that would happen.
And it was magic.
As he moved up to take the free kick, Messi displayed his renowned left foot and expertly curled the ball into the top corner of the goal. The almost 21,000-strong sold-out crowd exploded in a ferocious frenzy in celebration of the pivotal goal.
It was a very terrific game for us, Messi said after the match, thanking the supporters. We wanted to win for these supporters and find a match like this one. All of these people deserve my gratitude. They have made me feel really comfortable here, therefore I’m delighted to return the favor.
Messi’s goal for Inter Miami, the team with the worst record in MLS, was the ideal beginning of the squad’s new era.
Messi said after he scored the game-winning free kick, “I knew it was the last chance. I simply made the usual effort, and fortunately the goalkeeper was unable to collect the ball.
“Given our team’s standing in the league, wins are essential for our success. Even if this is only another competition, winning here will unquestionably enhance our spirits and confidence.
Every time Lionel Messi touched the ball, the crowd waited impatiently for him to score the goal. The crowd’s thundering yell in the 67th minute, when he demonstrated his signature quickness and confused Cruz Azul’s defenders, was so loud that it could have drowned out any small jet leaving the neighboring Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Messi may have received criticism for not tracking back throughout the match and for Cruz Azul’s equalizing goal while he was on the field, but in the overall scheme of things, such things looked insignificant.
David Beckham, a co-owner of Inter Miami, summed up the significance of the event by saying, “It’s such a moment for our country. Such an important time for the league. And we are quite proud of ourselves right now.
Messi gave the ideal rebuttal to those who might have questioned his dedication and assumed he went to South Beach for a relaxed experience near the conclusion of his career.
Messi’s previous coach at Barcelona and Argentina, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, expressed his adoration for Messi and emphasized that admiring his accomplishments need to be a regular occurrence. He emphasized that Messi’s choice to join Miami was an important one for his life and family, but from his first game on, he made it plain that he came to play and win, demonstrating his commitment to the team.
Despite having two last-place teams, the match before Messi’s arrival was rather interesting. First half was interesting since both teams had lots of opportunities to take advantage of the space.
Inter Miami lined up in a 4-3-3 formation under the direction of new coach Martino, the same set up that Argentina used to win the World Cup the previous year. Although the visitors took the initiative to start the game, Miami’s goalkeeper Drake Callender was called upon twice and made key stops to keep the opponents at bay.
Miami fared well to withstand the early pressure, but their performance faltered when right back Ian Fray hurt his left knee non-contact. This was a cause for concern because Fray had already torn his right ACL twice in his brief career, in 2021 and 2022. Miami was able to seize the lead for the first time in the game just before halftime. Robbie Robinson’s exquisite cross-field ball was controlled by Robert Taylor, who then cut inside from the left and unleashed a powerful low drive from just inside the box. The ball entered the goal after striking the far post. Lionel Messi, who had been sitting on the sidelines up until this point, erupted in celebration after this goal. He jumped up from his chair, clapping loudly and grinning widely, obviously thrilled at the team’s accomplishment. However, the celebration that had drawn other sporting greats like LeBron James and Serena Williams, as well as musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan and celebrity Kim Kardashian, threatened to be ruined by Cruz Azul’s equalizer.
Messi thought he had set up the eventual game-winning goal in the 87th minute when he assisted replacement Josef Martinez on a simple finish. As a result of Messi being flagged for offside during the buildup, the goal was disallowed.
Despite the setback, Miami’s spirits were immediately raised when they were able to score a legitimate goal a short while after. Shortly after that, the game came to an end, signaling the start of this new phase in Messi’s extraordinary career.
Tuesday’s Leagues Cup match between Inter Miami and Atlanta United in Fort Lauderdale will serve as the group’s last match; five days later, Cruz Azul will play Atlanta. With this triumph, Miami has moved one step closer to claiming a place in the knockout round, which starts on August 2. The top three teams in this competition will earn a spot in the prestigious Concacaf Champions League. With such a strong start, it wouldn’t be unexpected if Messi already has his sights set on Inter Miami’s first trophy in his new home. Indeed, Lionel Messi and Inter Miami have a promising opportunity ahead of them with the top three Leagues Cup teams winning qualification for the Concacaf Champions League. It’s clear that Messi is already focused on winning his first trophy at his new home after an amazing start to his career with the team. Messi and the entire Inter Miami team are probably motivated by the possibility of fighting at the highest level in regional club football and the opportunity to win a prestigious trophy as they anticipate the remainder of the competition and their future aspirations.