Lionel Messi scored the winning goal in a dream debut for Inter Miami

Lionel Messi made his long-awaited debut for Inter Miami in the only way the best soccer player in the world would be expected to.

Playing in the Leagues Cup match against Mexico’s Cruz Azul, Lionel Messi scored the game-winner in the final moments of the game, with a superb free kick from outside the box that sealed his team’s 2-1 win at DRV PNK Stadium.

Inter Miami vs. Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup: minute by minute of Lionel Messi’s debut
“What I saw was the goal. I saw the goal, I knew 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 as not to go to penalties. So it was very important for us to get this win, because it’s a new tournament that will give us confidence to go forward.”

The defining moment: Lionel Messi scores the free kick at minute 94. Credit: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Eight months after winning the World Cup with Argentina, Messi entered the game in the 54th minute as a substitute, when Inter Miami led 1-0.

Cruz Azul equalized in the 65th minute, and opened the door to Messi’s winning exploits.


After several close encounters, Messi finally broke through in the 94th minute of stoppage time to put a fairytale ending to his debut.

The traditional celebration of Messi looking at the sky. Credit: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

“As soon as I saw the free kick given, I thought this is the way 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 in this stadium, for you. It’s a great moment for this country, it’s a great moment for this league and it’s a very proud moment for us.”

The DRV PNK Stadium erupts in euphoria on July 21, 2023 after the winning goal scored by Lionel Messi in his debut. Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Several celebrities turned out to see the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner including Inter Miami manager David Beckham, NBA superstar LeBron James, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian.

Inter Miami’s next game is on August 20 against Charlotte in MLS.


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