Magic in Miami: Messi’s Marvelous Performance Rescues Inter in Leagues Cup Thriller
The world title team was in danger for the first time since Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami. Just after the hour mark of the clubs’ Leagues Cup round-of-16 encounter at Toyota Stadium, which was Messi’s first away game since joining the MLS squad and was contested in the scorching July Texas heat, FC Dallas seized a 3-1 lead.
However, Messi did what he always appears to do: He managed to find a way to assist his team in eking out a victory. With his team trailing by two goals in the 80th minute, Messi produced one of his signature direct free kicks into the top corner of FC Dallas goalie Maarten Paes’ net to draw the game 4-4 and force a penalty shootout. Messi also placed a free kick that was headed in for an FC Dallas own goal.
Messi made the first of Inter Miami’s five successful penalty shots at the spot to win the shootout and advance to the Leagues Cup quarterfinals.
“We possess the world’s top player. This cannot be disregarded. The team is lethal when we have our moments,” Inter Miami boss Tata Martino stated following the game. He did, however, add that the group is “still far from being a team you can trust.”
Without Messi, where would Inter Miami be? Martino finds the thought experiment to be somewhat uninspiring.
“Wherever he goes, this subject is always raised. Anyone may wager on what Messi’s absence from Barcelona, the Argentina national team, or any other location would have looked like, according to Martino. “Thankfully, we have him, and today he once again demonstrated that he is a very crucial player.
“There are free kicks in this area frequently, and I believe only with him do you get the impression that one of them will result in a goal. 90% of the time, you don’t expect a free kick to result in a goal, but when he has one, it typically does. 10% of the time you think it won’t be a goal, but 90% of the time it will be.
Manager of FC Dallas Nico Estévez went one step further than Martino on Sunday.
It is clear that for him, a free kick there is equivalent to a penalty kick for a different player. That’s all,” Estévez concluded. “I don’t believe there is anything to say. He is incredibly consistent, and everyone can see it. You only have to hope the player trips up as he prepares to kick the ball or the ball goes out of bounds.
On Sunday night, Messi was flawless and made only a few mistakes, but this cannot be said of many of his Inter Miami colleagues. Facundo Quignon and Bernard Kamungo scored goals for FCD to put them up 2-1 at the half.
Alan Velasco’s free kick from the left flank rebounded through traffic and into the Inter Miami goal in the 63rd minute, increasing FCD’s advantage to 3-1. And even though Inter scored again immediately after, it was again undone by careless play when striker Robert Taylor put the ball in his own net in the 68th minute.
There are numerous factors that, when considered when creating a team, might convince you that you are on the right track and creating a fantastic team, according to Martino. Of course, character is a must in any strong team. I believe we demonstrated it today. We made a lot of mistakes and had trouble moving the ball around, especially in the opening hour of the game, but the team also displayed character, which gave us a chance to win.
Without Messi, it never would have happened, and without Benjamin Cremaschi, an 18-year-old midfielder who scored just a minute after entering the game and successfully converted the fifth and final penalty kick, it very well would not have occurred either.
“All the guys congratulated me, and we were all happy we were able to come back and win on penalties,” the player stated. “It’s a special occasion and a lovely one for the club, but we realise we need to keep developing. There will be challenging games, but we are confident in our ability to compete all the way through.
That was necessary on Sunday night from a Miami team that was still gelling and still relied on the best player in the world to get it out of any jams. There are currently no issues. Inter Miami has advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to Messi’s achievement.