LeBron James, Serena Williams, and a sellout crowd were all in attendance for the debut of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.
I can type and describe what happened in the game. There are no words.
Messi again created magic. It was unbelievable moreover it all happened in the second half of the soccer game.
Inter Miami CF earned a 2-1 win over Cruz Azul in its inaugural Leagues Cup match. Messi guided The team to the historic victory, scoring a 94th-minute free-kick winner to cap a storybook debut in front of a sellout crowd at DRV PNK Stadium.
“It was like a movie that will play on repeat forever. It’s almost like it was written…[Messi] is always there to write these stories, ” said Head Coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino.
Messi warming up before the start of the second half sent the crowd in attendance into a frenzy.
Chants of Messi…Messi…Messi began.
Messi stepped foot on the pitch. Goosebumps from the sellout crowd could be felt. It is real. Messi is going to kick a soccer ball for Inter Miami CF.
The free kick by Messi in which he bends it like Beckham, like the owner of the team. Pun intended.
Unreal. In a game for his team that is last in the MLS. Inter Miami CF 18 points this season are the worst in the Eastern Conference. But it is all secondary. Instead it will take time as they build off of this moment.
Drake Callender started in goal; Ian Fray, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller, and DeAndre Yedlin formed the back four; Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruiz, and Dixon Arroyo started in midfield; Robert Taylor and Robbie Robinson started on the wings alongside striker Leonardo Campana.
Two of the Club’s latest additions, World Cup winners Messi and Sergio Busquets, began the match on the bench but would later enter the match to make their Inter Miami debuts.
The match opened frantically, with both teams trading chances and moments of danger in transition. Inter Miami then began to turn the pressure up around the 25th minute, with opportunities coming from Robinson and Campana, but the scoresheet remained blank for the moment.
Then, in the 44th minute, the hosts opened the scoring. Robinson pinged a spectacular long switch to Taylor down the left wing, who sized up his marker and beat him, cutting to the inside and firing a driven low shot off the far post and into the back of the net for the 0-1 lead. The assist was Robinson’s first of the season, while the goal was Taylor’s first in the Leagues Cup and third on the season.
A pair of superstar substitutes headlined the second half in, Messi and Busquets, who immediately made their presence felt in their new home at DRV PNK Stadium.
However, Cruz Azul struck first in the second half when Uriel Antuna struck a powerful low shot to equalize.
Then, in the dying moments of the match, Messi drew a foul in an ideal location for his signature ability; the seven-time Ballon d’Or stepped up and took the free kick from just outside of the box, curling his effort into the top left corner of the net to secure the victory over Cruz Azul.
Inter Miami will return to action on Tuesday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET when the team hosts Atlanta United at DRV PNK Stadium for the team’s final Group Stage match of the Leagues Cup.
CAZ – Uriel Antuna (Jesús Dueñas) 65’
MIA – Robert Taylor (Robbie Robinson) 44’, Lionel Messi 90’+4’
CAZ – Jesús Dueñas (Yellow Card 90’+2’)
MIA – Dixon Arroyo (Yellow Card 38’)
Lineups / Substitutions:
Inter Miami CF – GK Drake Callender; D Ian Fray (Noah Allen 30’), Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller (Chris McVey 74’), DeAndre Yedlin ©; M Benjamin Cremaschi (Lionel Messi 54’), David Ruiz (Sergio Busquets 55’) , Dixon Arroyo; F Robbie Robinson, Robert Taylor; Leonardo Campana (Josef Mártinez 55’)
Unused Substitutes – GK CJ dos Santos, Cole Jensen; D Harvey Neville, Ryan Sailor; M Edison Azcona, Victor Ulloa; F Shanyder Borgelin
Cruz Azul – GK Andres Gudiño; D Rodrigo Huescas (Juan Escobar 30’), Rafael Guerrero, Carlos Salcedo, Ignacio Rivero; M Jesús Dueñas, Carlos Rodríguez (Christian Tabó 78’), Uriel Antuna, Moisés (Augusto Lotti 78’), Carlos Rotondi; F Díber Cambindo (Kevin Castaño 64’)
Unused Substitutes – GK Alfredo Cabañas, Sebastián Jurado; D Josué Díaz, Alan Zubiri; M Jesús Escoboza, Erik Lira, Cristian Jiménez, Luis Iturbide
Details of the Game:
Date: July 21, 2023
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Stadium: DRV PNK Stadium
CAZ – 47.5%
MIA – 52.5%
CAZ – 18
MIA – 12
CAZ – 4
MIA – 7
CAZ – 8
MIA – 4
CAZ – 12
MIA – 14
Inter Miami CF Media Relations contributed to this column