Lionel Messi delivered a jaw-dropping full debut performance for Inter Miami against Atlanta United, scoring two goals and providing an assist.
In a previous match against Cruz Azul, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner came off the bench and netted a remarkable last-minute free-kick winner, making it the most-watched football game in American history.
David Beckham, the co-owner of Inter Miami, was moved to tears by Messi’s brilliant display, particularly when the Argentine maestro curled home a stunning goal in the 94th minute.
Messi’s first start for the club left Beckham in awe of his exceptional talents and impact on the team.
Inter, who had experienced a rather lackluster run with just one victory in ten games before the arrival of the greatest of all time, witnessed a dramatic transformation as they dominated their opponents 4-0 in the Leagues Cup match at the DRV PNK Stadium.
Messi, in his electrifying start to life in the new league, contributed significantly with a brace within 22 minutes.
He initiated the scoring in the eighth minute by expertly evading the offside trap and capitalizing on a flawless pass from his long-time teammate, Sergio Busquets.
LEO MESSI GOAL FOR INTER MIAMI AFTER AN INSANE PASS FROM PASS BUSQUETS
Just like old times 🇦🇷🐐 pic.twitter.com/2KQPyMQgge
— Sara 🦋 (@SaraFCBi) July 25, 2023
In his first attempt, Messi struck the post, but luck was on his side as the ball rebounded right back to him. Showing great composure, he calmly slotted the ball into the net with his right foot, beating Brad Buzan.
Messi didn’t stop there and went on to double the lead with yet another impressive goal using his weaker foot. This time, he capitalized on Robert Taylor’s well-timed cut-back from the left to find the back of the net once again.
GO OFF, LEO MESSI.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 26, 2023
Taylor, who played Non-League in England, went on to match Messi in bagging a brace – with his second goal set up by the Barcelona legend’s first Inter assist.
Messi darted up the pitch with the ball on the counter and slid in the Finland international, who supplied a smart finish.
Leo Messi gets his first Inter Miami assist 🎁
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 26, 2023
Prior to Messi’s arrival, Inter had never won a game but a four-goal deficit but the World Cup winner has quickly transformed their fortunes under Gerardo Martino.
In the 78th minute, Lionel Messi left the pitch to a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
He passed the captain’s armband to DeAndre Yedlin, and before making his way off the field, he shared a heartfelt hug with his compatriot Thiago Almada from Atlanta.
Despite having played only 114 minutes of football for Inter, Messi has already made a significant impact, scoring three goals and providing one assist.
Remarkably, he has yet to feature in his first official MLS game, but he is already within striking distance of becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, needing just 26 goals to surpass former teammate Gonzalo Higuain’s record.
Some, including Wayne Rooney, had said Messi wouldn’t find it easy across the pond but his first two outings suggest otherwise.
“He’s the best player in the world. This is what he does,” teammate Taylor said afterwards in an interview with Apple TV.
“It’s a dream come true to play with him.”
Next up for Messi and Inter is the round of 32 in the Leagues Cup, where they will face Orlando City, Houston Dynamo or Santos Laguna from Mexico.