MATCH RECAP: Lionel Messi Scores Late Free Kick Winner in Inter Miami CF Debut

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Inter Miami CF earned a 1-2 win over Cruz Azul in its inaugural Leagues Cup match. The team was guided to the historic victory by Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, who scored a 94th minute free kick winner to cap a storybook debut in front of a sellout crowd at DRV PNK Stadium.

Lineup Notes

Drake Callender started in goal; Ian Fray, Sergii Kryvtsov, Kamal Miller and DeAndre Yedlin formed the back four; Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruiz and Dixon Arroyo started in midfield; Robert Taylor and Robbie Robinson started on the wings alongside striker Leonardo Campana.

Two of the Club’s latest additions, World Cup winners Messi and Sergio Busquets, began the match on the bench, but would later enter the match to make their Inter Miami debuts.

Match Action

The match opened at a frantic pace, with both teams trading chances and moments of danger in transition. Inter Miami then began to turn the pressure up around the 25th minute, with chances coming from Robinson and Campana, but the scoresheet remained blank for the moment.

Then, in the 44th minute, the hosts opened the scoring. Robinson pinged a spectacular long switch to Taylor down the left wing, who sized up his marker and beat him, cutting to the inside and firing a driven low shot off the far post and into the back of the net for the 0-1 lead. The assist was Robinson’s first of the season, while the goal was Taylor’s first in Leagues Cup and third on the season.

The second half was headlined by a pair of superstar substitutes in Messi and Busquets, who immediately made their presence felt in their new home at DRV PNK Stadium.

It was Cruz Azul, however, that struck first in the second half when Uriel Antuna struck a powerful low shot to equalize. 

Then, in the dying moments of the match, Messi drew a foul in an ideal location for his signature ability; the seven-time Ballon d’Or stepped up and took the free kick from just outside of the box, curling his effort into the top left corner of the net to secure the victory over Cruz Azul.

Post-Match Reaction

“It was like a movie that will play on repeat forever. It’s almost like it was written…[Messi] is always there to write these stories, ” said Head Coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino.

Next Match

Inter Miami will return to action on Tuesday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET when the team hosts Atlanta United at DRV PNK Stadium for the team’s final Group Stage match of Leagues Cup.



CAZ - 47.5%

MIA - 52.5%


CAZ - 18

MIA - 12


CAZ - 4

MIA - 7


CAZ - 8

MIA - 4


CAZ - 12

MIA - 14