July 21 – In a display of sheer brilliance, Lionel Messi marked his debut for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami with a thrilling stoppage-time winner, defeating Liga MX’s Cruz Azul 2-1 on Friday. This electrifying match, the Leagues Cup opener, took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In the dying seconds of the game, Messi was fouled approximately 25 yards from the goal. Rising to the occasion, he delivered the spectacle everyone had been waiting for. His free kick soared into the top left corner, sending the crowd into a state of euphoria. – Read more: Inter Miami sign Sergio Busquets
Watch Video Highlights of Lionel Messi – Inter Miami FC Debut vs Liga MX’s Cruz Azul
Following his triumphant goal, Messi sprinted towards the right corner of the field, arms outstretched in celebration. He then made his way to the opposite sidelines, sharing a heartfelt embrace with his family.
“Scoring was imperative. It was the final play of the game, and I had to ensure we didn’t resort to penalties,” Messi revealed during the broadcast, speaking through a translator. “Securing this win was crucial for us. It’s a new tournament, and this victory will undoubtedly boost our confidence moving forward.”
The sold-out crowd was a star-studded affair, with four-time NBA champion LeBron James, tennis legend Serena Williams, and reality TV star Kim Kardashian among the spectators.
Messi, introduced as “the world’s number 10,” entered the game as a second-half substitute with Miami leading 1-0, to thunderous applause.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner wasted no time in asserting his dominance. He skillfully evaded Cruz Azul defenders, leading an attack down the right side, and creating numerous opportunities throughout the night.
In a controversial moment, Messi collided with a Cruz Azul player in the box and fell to the ground. Despite the vehement appeals from his team and supporters for a penalty, the referee promptly dismissed the claim, denying the Argentine a chance at a spot-kick.
In the 89th minute, Messi set up what seemed to be the winning goal, but Martinez, who had tapped the ball into the net, was ruled offside.
However, Messi, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar just seven months prior, seized his moment in the spotlight once again.
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham expressed his excitement, “As soon as the free kick was awarded, I knew this was the destined conclusion. It’s an exhilarating night for our fans.
Everyone who came here to see Leo step on the pitch, let alone perform the way he did, is thrilled. It’s a dream come true for everyone in this stadium and across the country to witness Leo’s entry into the MLS. I’m at a loss for words.”