In a thrilling Leagues Cup match at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Lionel Messi displayed his magic, scoring two goals and providing an assist as he and Sergio Busquets graced Inter Miami CF’s starting lineup for the first time since joining the MLS side. The former Barcelona teammates wasted no time making an impact, combining beautifully for Miami’s opening goal in the eighth minute. Busquets lofted a perfectly placed ball over Atlanta’s defense, finding Messi, who missed his initial attempt but swiftly capitalized on the rebound, putting Miami ahead 1-0.
The Argentine superstar didn’t stop there and added another goal on a well-executed counterattack in the 22nd minute, with Robert Taylor assisting. Taylor himself found the back of the net to extend Miami’s lead to 3-0 before halftime, with another assist from Messi. After the break, Taylor sealed the deal with his second goal, courtesy of Messi’s vision and precision. Messi received a heartfelt ovation from the home crowd as he was substituted in the 78th minute, while Busquets made way for Victor Ulloa six minutes earlier.
Gerardo Martino, Miami’s manager, expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance, stating, “It was a good performance, and I’m pleased we were able to make our fans happy. A very good game, and we took another step in the right direction.” Miami dominated its group, advancing to the round of 32 in the Leagues Cup, eagerly awaiting its next opponent.
The match against Atlanta United also marked a significant milestone for Messi, as he became the 100th club that he has scored against throughout his illustrious career. His partnership with Busquets, forged over 13 years at Barcelona, continues to flourish even after the Argentine’s move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. Busquets praised Lionel Messi, saying, “So many years playing together, so it’s very easy to play with him. I’m so happy to be by his side.”
Martino, who previously coached both Messi and Busquets at Barcelona, wasn’t surprised by their seamless connection on the field, citing their ability to create space and their immense skills. The presence of these two football giants has injected newfound confidence into the Miami squad and has even struck fear into opposing teams. The right-back DeAndre Yedlin emphasized the positive impact of having Messi and Busquets in the team, stating, “Their presence gives everybody more confidence. And I think also the teams that we’re playing against now have a bit of fear in their eyes. When those two are on the field, you know you’re in for a tough game.”
Lionel Messi’s status as a global star attracts fans and celebrities alike, but Martino encouraged fans to support the whole team rather than solely focusing on Messi. While some fans left the stadium after Messi was substituted, Martino expressed understanding while also hoping for continued support until the end of the match.
In a previous Leagues Cup match against Cruz Azul, Messi showcased his brilliance, securing a dramatic win with a stunning free-kick goal. The signing of Messi by co-owner David Beckham’s Inter Miami has been a storybook saga, and the fans eagerly await his official debut in an MLS game, scheduled against Charlotte on August 20.
While Messi’s star power continues to shine on the pitch, one notable absence from the Miami squad was another former Barcelona player, Jordi Alba, who recently joined the team but was not included in the lineup for the Atlanta United match.
Lionel Messi’s performance has undoubtedly lifted Inter Miami CF, and his partnership with Busquets is a testament to their enduring chemistry and talent. The team’s success in the Leagues Cup is a testament to their progress under Gerardo Martino’s guidance, and fans are eagerly anticipating Messi’s continued brilliance on the MLS stage.
Source : ESPN
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