Lionel Messi made his long-awaited debut with Major League Soccer side Inter Miami with a flourish only the world’s top player could produce.
Playing in the Leagues Cup match against Mexican side Cruz Azul, Messi scored the game-winning goal in the final moments of the second half, curling in a magnificent free-kick strike from outside the box to seal the 2-1 Inter Miami victory at sold-out DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.What I saw was the goal. I saw the goal, I knew that I had to score,”
Messi told the Apple TV broadcast after the game. “It was the last play of the game and I wanted to score so we didn’t go to penalties. So it was very important for us to get this win, because it’s a new tournament this is going to give us confidence moving forward.”Lionel Messi
Leagues Cup, an annual tournament between MLS and Liga MX, was expanded this year to include all teams in each league. Months after winning the World Cup with Argentina, Messi entered the game in the 54th minute, with Inter Miami holding a 1-0 lead. Cruz Azul equalized in the 65th minute, opening the door for Messi’s game-winning heroics.
“As soon I saw the free kick given, I thought this is the way it’s meant to win, especially when you have players like Leo and Sergio (Busquets) on the pitch,” Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham told the Apple TV broadcast after the game.
“This is such a special night for us, for our family, for everyone that’s in this stadium, for you guys. It is such a moment for this country, It’s such a moment for this league and it’s a very proud moment for us.”
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – JULY 16: Lionel Messi waves to fans as he is introduced during “The Unveil” introducing Lionel Messi hosted by Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on July 16, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tickets for Messi’s US debut cost as much as $110,000
The stars were out to watch the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner with the likes of Beckham, NBA superstar LeBron James, tennis champion Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian in the stands.