Lionel Messi Runs The Show As Inter Miami Secure Leagues Cup Round-Of-16 Spot

Inter Miami Star Lionel Messi Celebrates After Scoring Against Orlando City
Inter Miami Star Lionel Messi Celebrates After Scoring Against Orlando City

Lionel Messi extended his purple patch as Inter Miami picked up a comfortable 3-1 victory in the Leagues Cup round-of-32 clash against Orlando City on Wednesday night (August 2). The 36-year-old, who joined the Herons as a free agent in July, scored a stunning brace to take home the Man of the Match award at DRV PNK Stadium.

Taylor-Messi connection is proving to be unstoppable

The former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar made his second start for Miami on Wednesday and wasted little time to make a telling impact.

Seven minutes into the game, Inter Miami left-winger Robert Taylor cut inside from the left flank, switched to his dominant right foot, and put in a clever chip into the box for his teammate Messi. Having timed his run to perfection, Messi chested the ball down and hit it on the volley to put the hosts in front. It marked Taylor’s second assist for Lionel Messi, with his first coming in the 4-0 win over Atlanta United in the previous round.

Despite conceding an early goal, Orlando City refused to lose their cool and equalized just 10 minutes later. Cesar Araujo made the most of a corner kick routine and beat Inter Miami shot-stopper Drake Callender from close range. Miami failed to find a response in the first half but restored their lead just six minutes into the second, courtesy of Josef Martinez’s spotless penalty kick.

Lionel Messi was too hot to handle for Orlando City

Inter Miami were not happy with the slender one-goal lead and kept piling men forward to secure the insurance goal. The goal inevitably arrived, with Lionel Messi doubling his tally and putting the game to bed in the 72nd minute. The Barcelona icon started the move from midfield, with him dribbling upfield before laying it off for Taylor on the left. The winger cut inside and put the ball into the box for Martinez. Instead of pulling the trigger himself, the Venezuelan unselfishly fed it to Messi, who made no mistake putting it in from close range. The goal marked Messi’s fifth in just three appearances for Miami.

The excellent brace aside, Messi also dazzled with his mazey runs, brilliant link-up play, and visionary passing. On Wednesday night, he recorded three shots on target, completed two dribbles, delivered two accurate long balls, and played six passes into the final third. Additionally, the Argentine ace drew four fouls and won seven duels.

Having picked up three Leagues Cup victories on the bounce, Messi and Co. will return to action with the round-of-16 encounter against FC Dallas on Sunday (August 6).

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