Lionel Messi continued his stellar form in the United States, scoring yet again as Inter Miami scripted another win. In the 86th minute, Messi scored his eighth goal in five games for his new team, leading them to a convincing 4-0 win over Charlotte in a Leagues Cup quarterfinal match.
The goal was made possible by Leonardo Campana, who threaded a pass between two defenders from the left side of the penalty area. Messi redirected the pass past another defender into the open net and then celebrated with Campana, showcasing a broad smile.
Messi has now scored in all five matches that he’s played for Miami. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who guided Argentina to World Cup victory last year, hasn’t lost with Miami yet. After his inclusion in the squad, the team has won all five of their Leagues Cup matches. The Leagues Cup includes 47 teams from MLS and Mexico’s top league.
Inter Miami will next play their semifinal against Philadelphia on Tuesday. The latter has won 2-1 against Queretaro.
By surpassing Minnesota’s Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who scored seven goals in four matches, Messi secured the top spot in Leagues Cup goal scorers. Minnesota was eliminated after a 5-0 loss to Nashville.
Josef Martinez and Robert Thomas also contributed goals for Miami. An own goal was scored after Messi pressured the opposition late in the second half. Then, Leo sealed the victory in the closing moments of the game.
This marked the second consecutive game and the third time in four matches that Miami scored four goals. The Argentinian forward’s presence has helped see a remarkable transformation for a team previously in last place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.
Before Messi’s arrival, Inter Miami had managed only five wins out of 22 MLS matches this season.
Since Messi’s arrival, Inter Miami have triumphed in all five of its Leagues Cup matches and are now just two wins away from claiming a trophy. The team’s performance has dramatically improved since the arrival of star players like Messi, Busquets, Jordi Alba, besides coach Gerardo Tata Martino.
Messi had a few scoring opportunities. In the 30th minute, he had a chance from about six yards, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. Another opportunity came in the 69th minute; Messi passed to Taylor and received the ball back, but his attempt from around 12 yards was deflected.
Miami’s scoring started with Martinez’s penalty kick in the 12th minute, followed by Taylor’s goal in the 32nd minute. An own goal extended the lead to 3-0, and Messi finished the match for Miami. This was the largest margin of victory for the team in its four seasons of MLS play.