Inter Miami Secures Dominant Victory Against Philadelphia Union
Lionel Messi Notches His Ninth Goal in Sixth Miami Match with Spectacular Long-Range Shot
Lionel Messi’s extraordinary 35-yard strike propelled Inter Miami into the final of the Leagues Cup, as they clinched a resounding 4-1 triumph over Philadelphia Union.
Miami set the pace from the start, with Messi’s strike partner Josef Martinez finding the net in the third minute, connecting with a lofted pass and dispatching a powerful shot into the far corner.
In a match touted as one of the toughest on paper since Messi’s arrival a month earlier, Miami initiated a dream-like commencement. Notably absent from the scene this time was David Beckham, the co-owner of Miami, who typically graces the stands during their games. Additionally, his wife Antonela was not present for the away game.
The Messis and Beckhams were recently inadvertently linked to an incident outside a Miami nightclub, where a diner alleged that security mistook him for attempting to photograph the Miami star and subsequently subjected him to mistreatment.
Despite a chorus of boos greeting Messi and the Miami squad as they took to the field on Tuesday night, their performance remained unscathed. Just 20 minutes into the game, the World Cup winner demonstrated precisely why his presence had generated such fervor.
Executing a seamless interplay, Messi received a pass directed his way by Martinez. Advancing confidently, he capitalized on the available space, knowing he was about to face pressure. He unleashed a sublime left-footed strike from an impressive distance of 35 yards. The ball hugged the ground, swerving beyond the grasp of Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and nestling into the corner, rendering the previously exuberant crowd at Subaru Park silent in awe.
Further fireworks ensued before halftime, as Jordi Alba concluded an exquisite sweeping movement with his first goal donning the Miami colors. Displaying the poise of a striker like Messi or Martinez, Alba surged through one-on-one and elegantly dispatched the ball past Blake.
Union coach Jim Curtin evidently instructed his team to show no reverence towards the likes of Messi, Alba, and Sergio Busquets during the halftime break. He made tactical adjustments, introducing Jack McGlynn and Mikael Uhre for Leon Flach and Damion Lowe.
Union managed to mount an offensive and secured some breakthroughs. A remarkable save by Drake Callendar thwarted Chris Donovan’s header, while substitute Alejandro Bedoya narrowed the gap for Union in the 73rd minute.
At that juncture, momentum appeared to swing in Union’s favor, and with 15 minutes plus stoppage time remaining, a second goal could have injected nervousness into Miami’s camp. However, David Ruiz extinguished any hope of a Union comeback with a polished low finish in the 84th minute, ensuring Miami’s victory.
“We’ve earned our spot in the finals, and we’ve made it,” Messi shared on Instagram following the match. “We’re still on the last step.”
Miami coach Tata Martino showered accolades on his star trio of Messi, Busquets, and Alba, lauding their capacity to instill confidence in the younger players. He particularly emphasized Messi’s commitment to the game and his influential role in rallying the team, especially during recovery plays.
Looking forward, there are lessons to glean for Miami as they head into the final. While a more unrelenting adversary might have posed a tougher challenge in the second half, the presence of Messi alone can shift the tides in Miami’s favor within a split second.
This triumph also secures Miami’s participation in next season’s CONCACAF Cup, regardless of the outcome in the final. Yet, all attention now centers on the pursuit of championship glory this upcoming weekend.
Beckham also took to social media to express his pride, sharing on Instagram: “Another remarkable night in pink. A monumental moment for OUR team, OUR fans, OUR club. Our inaugural final appearance, I am profoundly PROUD.”