Lionel Messi’s highly-anticipated debut for Inter Miami in the United States left soccer fans in awe as the Argentine superstar showcased his extraordinary talent in a last-second victory against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.
During the fourth minute of stoppage time, with the match deadlocked at 1-1, Messi won a free-kick just outside the box, perfectly situated for his renowned left foot.
With the stage set, Messi elegantly executed the free-kick. Casting a glance at Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper, Andres Gudino, he then focused intently and gracefully curled the ball high into the top right corner, securing a thrilling 2-1 triumph.
The 20,000-strong crowd at Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium erupted with joy, some even storming onto the field before being quickly apprehended by security.
Clouds of pink smoke bombs, symbolic of Miami’s trademark color, filled the air behind the goal, where the team’s most fervent supporters gathered.
“We wanted to start like this by giving these people a victory,” Messi expressed after the game.
Acknowledging the importance of commencing the championship with a win, Messi added, “We knew that it was very important for us to start this championship in winning fashion and luckily we were able to do it in the end, and I am very happy.”
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Inter Miami, currently at the bottom of the Major League Soccer standings and winless in 11 league games, desperately needed this victory.
“It is a huge joy to get this first victory after how we have done in the league,” Messi emphasized, highlighting the significance of instilling confidence through victories.
The arrival of Lionel Messi, a World Cup winner and an all-time great, has raised hopes of transforming soccer and propelling it into the American mainstream for Miami and Major League Soccer.
If Messi’s debut is any indication, the former Barcelona star still has plenty to offer. Despite his recent Caribbean vacation with his family, Messi displayed sharpness and alertness on the field.
Joining him in this American adventure is Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, a former Barcelona teammate, who made a strong impression during their time on the pitch together.
Their almost telepathic understanding was evident as Busquets delivered pinpoint passes to Messi throughout the match.
However, it was Messi’s magical finish that etched an indelible memory for Inter Miami fans, and even club co-owner David Beckham couldn’t hide his elation at the final whistle.
Beckham commented, “To be honest, as soon as I saw the free kick given, I thought this is the way it’s meant to end. Especially when you’ve got players like Leo and Sergio on the pitch, that’s what they produce.”
The electrifying atmosphere in the stadium was enhanced by the presence of NBA great LeBron James, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and tennis legend Serena Williams, among other stars.
Fans donned pink Miami shirts with Messi’s name and number 10, while some sported Messi masks and banners, truly celebrating his status as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).