Lionel Messi shines in Inter Miami 2024 opener

The Argentine superstar put on a man-of-the-match performance as his team won 2-0, with the debut of striker Luis Suárez

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami debuted in the 2024 Major League Soccer season with a 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake. The Argentine football superstar, who recently struggled with injuries and faced criticism for his absence in a pre-season friendly in Hong Kong, played the whole game and put in a man-of-the-match display to kick off his second season in U.S. football. 

In addition to a strong performance by Lio, the game also featured the debut of former Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona striker Luis Suárez for the Herons.

Messi showed his best self after his injury-ridden pre-season cast doubts over his fitness. It only took him 15 minutes to make highlight-reel-worthy appearances, when the Argentine star stroked a freekick that was cleared off the line by a defender.

The Herons were the dominant team throughout the first half, although they had to wait until the 39th minute to open the scoreboard, with Messi assisting American striker Robert Taylor for the 1-0.

In the second half, Inter Miami’s mistakes with the ball on its own third gave Real Salt Lake plenty of chances to tie the game. This inspired a resurgence from the Royals, which required some great saves by Herons goalkeeper Drake Callender.

When it looked like 1-1 was imminent, a recovery by Paraguayan midfielder Diego Gómez unleashed Messi. The Argentine dribbled forward and put it for Suárez to assist Gómez, who scored the final 2-0.

“I saw him very relaxed, in shape, and quick footed,” said Inter Miami head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino about Messi after the game. “When he picks up the ball, even if it’s far from the opposition’s goal, you always get the feeling it can end up as a goal; that doesn’t happen with any other player in the world.”

Inter Miami will return to action this Sunday, when it visits the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Dignity Health Sports Park in California, at 10:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. Feb. 26, Argentina time). An Apple TV subscription is required to watch it (monthly cost of US$7), plus an additional monthly US$15 fee for the MLS Season Pass, or a one-time US$99 payment for the entire season.


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