Inter Miami CF emerges victorious in the highly anticipated Leagues Cup Final, exhibiting incredible prowess in a remarkable 11-round penalty shootout

There is Inter Miami CF before and after Lionel Messi.

Messi has made such an impact the moment he stepped on the soccer field for Inter Miami CF that there is a possibility they will only remember playing games since his arrival. 

The most significant memory in the team’s young history came as Messi scored early in regulation and converted the first shot in penalty kicks as Inter Miami CF beat Nashville SC 10-9 on penalties in the Leagues Cup final.

Lionel Messi Leagues Cup Best Player and Top Scorer

Messi scored for the 10th time in seven games since joining Inter Miami — all in the Leagues Cup competition — converting in the 23rd minute.

The cheapest seats still cost several hundred dollars. A capacity crowd of 30,109 filled Geodis Park.

Nashville native Reese Witherspoon brought out the game ball, and two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo took some shots on goal before the game. Both are minority owners of Nashville, SC.

The Messi effect. 

Inter Miami CF achieved another significant milestone for the Club on Saturday night, making history by defeating Nashville SC at GEODIS Park in a dramatic penalty shootout to win the 2023 Leagues Cup title and clinch the First Team’s first official piece of silverware. The match ended 1-1 in regulation and featured a stellar performance between the sticks from Man of the Match Drake Callender and a surprise from Lionel Messi to open the scoring in the first half.

Lionel Messi has written another story in his historic career, his Inter Miami CF debut

Individually, two Inter Miami players also enjoyed the historic night in Tennessee. Messi became the player with the most trophies in the sport’s history with 44 and collected Leagues Cup Best Player and Top Scorer awards. Meanwhile, Goalkeeper Callender earned Man of the Match honors for his stellar performance in the final and the Leagues Cup Best Goalkeeper award.

“Today we became champions, and the truth is it feels really good. It also helps us continue to grow, to continue maintaining our ambition. I think we have more clarity on what can happen in the future after winning this title just 30-35 days after starting with the Club,” said head coach Gerardo’ Tata’ Martino.

Inter Miami CF achieved another significant milestone for the Club winning Leagues Cup

Inter Miami took the pitch in the final with an unchanged starting XI from its semifinal win over Philadelphia Union. Callender started in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller, and Jordi Alba formed the back four; Sergio Busquets, Dixon Arroyo, and Benjamin Cremaschi started in midfield; Messi and Robert Taylor started on the wings alongside striker Josef Martínez.

The initial minutes presented an even matchup, with both sides cautious in defense while searching for opportunities in attack. However, it was close to the 20th minute mark that the game’s intensity picked up. First, Callender came up big with a couple of notable interventions in goal to keep Nashville scoreless, in particular, denying a Walker Zimmerman header from the center of the box in the 18th minute. Inter Miami followed suit and previewed what was to come when winger Taylor unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box to force a diving save from the hosts goalkeeper in the 21st minute.

Subsequently, Inter Miami’s captain once again rose to the occasion. The clock marked the 23rd minute of action when a deflected pass attempt from Taylor found Messi outside the box, where the Argentine attacker took a touch, rounded a defender to find space on the left-hand side, and unleashed a left-footed curler to the top left corner to open the scoring and net Inter Miami’s first-ever goal in a final in spectacular fashion. The goal was his Leagues Cup-leading 10th, while Messi has now scored at least once in his seven appearances for the Club. 

The 0-1 scoreline was unchanged throughout the remaining minutes of the first half to send Miami into the half with the advantage.

The second half saw the hosts level the scoring early on; in the 57th minute, forward Fafà Picault scored following a scramble inside the box after a corner-kick opportunity for Nashville. 

The remaining minutes of the final presented a thrilling back-and-forth matchup, with both sides searching for the winner. Inter Miami came close to reclaiming the team’s lead on several occasions, even hitting the post twice through a Messi grounded shot from outside the box in the 71st minute and then with an opportunity inside the box from second-half substitute Leonardo Campana in the dying moments of added time. 

Defensively, Callender again denied Nashville with several crucial interventions, including two pivotal saves in added time to send the match into a dramatic penalty shootout. 

Ten out of Inter Miami’s eleven takers netted, winning 9-10 in the penalty shootout to clinch the 2023 Leagues Cup title, with Callender culminating his heroic performance on the night by scoring the team’s final kick from the spot and saving Nashville’s final penalty.

The historic final saw Inter Miami win the team’s first official title, extend the longest win streak in Club history to seven, and secure a spot in the Round of 16 in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. Inter Miami secured the first First Team’s trophy by winning all seven consecutive matches en route to the 2023 Leagues Cup title, defeating Cruz Azul, Atlanta United, Orlando City SC, FC Dallas, Charlotte FC, Philadelphia Union, and Nashville. 

Inter Miami will return to the pitch on Wednesday, Aug. 23, when the team will travel to Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals at 7 p.m. ET at TQL Stadium.


Scoring Summary: NSH – Fafá Picault (Sam Surridge) 57’MIA – Lionel Messi 23’Misconduct Summary:NSH – Aníbal Godoy (Yellow Card 54’)MIA – Victor Ulloa (Yellow Card 89’)Lineups / Substitutions:Nashville SC – GK Elliot Panicco; D Shaq Moore, Walker Zimmerman ©, Lukas MacNaughton, Daniel Lovitz; M Alex Muyl (Randall Leal 82’), Dax McCarty (Sean Davis 72’), Aníbal Godoy, Fafa Picault (Jacob Shaffelburg 72’); F Sam Surridge, Hany MukhtarUnused Substitutes – GK Ben Martino, Joe Willis; D Josh Bauer, Jack Maher, Taylor Washington; M Brian Anunga, Luke Haakenson, Laurence Wyke; F Teal BunburyInter Miami CF – GK Drake Callender; D DeAndre Yedlin, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller, Jordi Alba; M Sergio Busquets, Dixon Arroyo (Victor Ulloa 81’), Benjamin Cremaschi (Diego Gómez 68’); F Lionel Messi ©, Robert Taylor (David Ruíz 82’); Josef Mártinez (Leonardo Campana 68’) Unused Substitutes – GK CJ dos Santos, Cole Jensen; D Noah Allen, Tomás Avilés, Chris McVey, Harvey Neville; M Facundo Farías; F Robbie RobinsonDetails of the Game:Date: August 19, 2023Time: 9 p.m. ETStadium: GEODIS Park Stats: Possession:NSH – 41.5%MIA – 58.5%Shots:NSH – 11MIA – 6Saves:NSH – 1MIA – 5Corners:NSH – 6MIA – 2Fouls:NSH – 8MIA – 9







Inter Miami CF contributed to this column and recap

Author: West Lamy

My passport requires no photograph. Experienced play-by-play broadcaster and multimedia sports journalist with years of producing and covering sports. WORLDWIDEWEST is a journey; in this journey my feet don't get blisters, but my shoes do.

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