MIAMI,FL. – Inter Miami CF earned a 4-0 victory over Atlanta United at DRV PNK Stadium on Tuesday night, securing the team’s place in the Leagues Cup Knockout Rounds. Lionel Messi and Robert Taylor starred on the night, each netting a brace to guide the team to the win.“I think [the arrival of Messi and Busquets] has given the team a lot of confidence…I feel like they carry the responsibility and the rest of the team feels more free to play. We’re also accumulating more training sessions together and getting on the same page with a few things,” head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said. “I started to see certain things taking shape that we asked of the team in the match against St. Louis…Today I saw a very important performance.”
Drake Callender started in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller and Noah Allen started in defense; Sergio Busquets, Dixon Arroyo and Benjamin Cremaschi formed the midfield three; Messi, Taylor and Josef Martínez led the attack.The match marked the historic first Inter Miami starts for both Messi and Busquets following their team debuts in Friday’s win over Cruz Azul; Messi again donned the captain’s armband on the night. The match also saw reunions for Martino and Martínez, who faced their former team in Atlanta, where they each won MLS Cup and made history. Messi wasted no time, connecting with Busquets and finding the scoresheet in the eighth minute; Busquets played a ball over the top for Messi in behind the defense, where his first shot hit the post, but he collected the rebound and finished to take the early 1-0 lead.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner expanded the lead and doubled his tally in the 22nd minute, playing a swift give and go with Taylor, including a clever dummy by Martínez in the middle, and finishing at the far post to make it 2-0. The goal marked Messi’s third for the Club in just his second appearance, while the assist was Taylor’s team-leading fifth on the season across all competitions.The duo connected again before the half when Messi cut inside past a defender from the right wing, played a ball to Cremaschi, who took one touch on the turn over a defender, and laid a pass off to Taylor in the box. The Finnish winger calmly volleyed a slicing left-footed strike from a tight angle into the top corner of the net for the 3-0 lead at the 44th minute, just before the halftime whistle. Coming out of the break, Inter Miami continued to look sharp. The scoring wasn’t over just yet, with Messi driving forward out of his own half, waiting to draw defenders with Taylor streaking on his left. Messi played Taylor in behind and the winger struck a low left-footed shot across goal, off the far post and in for his second goal of the night, giving Miami a pair of braces to go up 4-0. The goal was Taylor’s second of the night and third in two Leagues Cup matches. Things began to wind down for both sides as the last 20 minutes of the match came around. Messi exited the match in the 78th minute to a rousing applause from the DRV PNK Stadium crowd, being replaced by Robbie Robinson, and placing Yedlin as the captain for the remainder of the match. Leonardo Campana was also subbed in for Taylor in the 83rd minute.
The action continued in the waning minutes of the match, when Atlanta drew a penalty, but Callender made a diving stop, followed up by another save to keep the clean sheet through the full time whistle, in a sequence emblematic of his season thus far.Inter Miami will return to action on Wednesday, Aug. 2 in the Round of 32 of Leagues Cup, where they will face off against the winner of South Group 2. Scoring Summary: MIA – Lionel Messi 8’, Lionel Messi (Robert Taylor) 22’, Robert Taylor (Benjamin Cremaschi, Lionel Messi) 44’, Robert Taylor (Lionel Messi) 53’ Misconduct Summary: MIA – Christopher McVey (Red Card 84’) Lineups / Substitutions: Inter Miami CF – GK Drake Callender; D DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov (Christopher McVey 73’), Kamal Miller, Noah Allen; M Dixon Arroyo, Sergio Busquets (Victor Ulloa 72’), Benjamin Cremaschi (David Ruiz 73’); F Lionel Messi (Robbie Robinson 78’), Josef Martínez, Robert Taylor (Leonardo Campana 83’) Unused Substitutes – GK CJ dos Santos, Cole Jensen; D Harvey Neville, Ryan Sailor; M Edison Azcona; F Shanyder Borgelin Atlanta United – GK Brad Guzan; D Luis Abram, Miles Robinson, Juan Jose Purata (Ronald Hernández 46); M Caleb Wiley (Derrick Etienne Jr. 80’), Matheus Rossetto (Osvaldo Alonso 65’), Santiago Sosa, Brooks Lennon, Thiago Almada, Tyler Wolff (Edwin Mosquera 46’); F Giorgos Giakoumakis (Miguel Berry 65’) Unused Substitutes – GK Clément Diop, Quentin Westberg; D Noah Cobb; M Amar Sejdić, Tristan Muyumba, Ajani Fortune Details of the Game: Date: July 25, 2023 Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Stadium: DRV PNK Stadium Attendance: 19,758
Stats:Possession: MIA – 61.1% ATL – 38.9% Shots: MIA – 12 ATL – 10 Saves: MIA – 6 ATL – 3 Corners: MIA – 2 ATL – 8 Fouls: MIA – 8 ATL – 9
Inter Miami FC Contributed to this recap