Messi Comes Off Bench To Score As Inter Miami Win At Red Bulls

Lionel Messi made a significant impact when he came off the bench during Inter Miami’s quest for the Major League Soccer playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Despite a week filled with achievements for Miami, including winning the Leagues Cup and reaching the final of the US Open Cup, Coach Gerard “Tata” Martino initially kept Messi as a substitute. However, Messi entered the game around the 60th minute alongside former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets.

In his regular season debut, the Argentine World Cup winner didn’t have much involvement until the 89th minute when he scored a remarkable goal. The play began with Jordi Alba skillfully delivering the ball into the box, where Messi displayed his trademark skill by delivering a sublime pass with the outside of his foot to Benjamin Cremaschi.

Cremaschi’s low first-time cross was then tapped in by the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. Messi has now netted 11 goals in nine appearances across all competitions since joining Inter Miami.

“He’s unbelievable, every day it’s something new, on and off the field,” said Miami’s 19-year-old defender Noah Allen.

“He’s an amazing person to play with and I am so blessed to play with him.”

Martino had previously mentioned that several of his players required a rest due to a strenuous schedule of eight games within a month. He stayed true to his word with his lineup selection, despite the disappointment of the capacity crowd at Red Bull Arena.

Throughout the match, chants of ‘We want Messi’ could be heard at regular intervals, and the game was even displayed on a massive screen in Times Square.

In an improvised Miami lineup, they managed to take the lead in the 37th minute when Noah Allen provided a cross from the left, allowing Paraguayan Diego Gomez to calmly turn and slot the ball home with his left foot.

Miami’s goalkeeper, Drake Callender, was forced to make a series of saves to maintain their lead. However, as Red Bull’s pressure increased, Martino eventually decided to introduce his star player, inevitably shifting the game’s momentum.

This victory lifted Miami from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and reduced the gap to the final playoff spot to 11 points, with 11 games remaining.

Despite the crowd’s expectations, Martino defended his choice to start his 36-year-old compatriot on the bench.

“I understand the desire of the people who want him to play, this will happen everywhere we go,” he said.

“But as the coach, I cannot be guided by those fans’ desires. My job is to make sure Leo takes care of himself,” he said.


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