Lionel Messi scored twice for his new team as Inter Miami advanced to the Leagues Cup quarterfinals on penalties after rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits to level things at 4-4 by the end of regulation against FC Dallas on Sunday night in Frisco, Texas.
Messi also assisted Benjamin Cremaschi’s goal for Miami, which had gone winless in 11 league matches prior to the Argentine World Cup winner’s arrival last month.
All four of Messi’s appearances with Inter Miami have come in the Leagues Cup, a tournament that pits all MLS and Liga MX teams against each other. The regular season will resume in two weeks.
Cremaschi also scored the decisive penalty kick in a 5-4 tiebreak that ended in favor of Miami, which will play the winner of Monday’s match between the Houston Dynamo and Charlotte FC.
Facundo Quignon, Bernard Kamungo and Alan Velasco scored for Dallas, which held leads of 3-1 and 4-2 before losing its grip on the match. Paxton Pomykal was the only penalty-taker to miss, skying FC Dallas’ second kick over the crossbar.
Despite the tournament exit, Dallas is the first team to hold Miami to so much as a draw over 90 minutes since Messi debuted in the tournament’s group stage.
Messi gave Miami the lead in the sixth minute when he took Jordi Alba’s cross and drove a first-time, left-footed finish from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom left corner of the net.
Officials originally ruled the goal offside because of striker Josef Martinez’s position on the play. But that call was reversed after a video review, where referee Cesar Ramos ruled that Martinez did not impede goalkeeper Maarten Paes’ ability to save the ball.
After Dallas turned the match around and eventually grabbed a 4-2 lead, Miami benefitted from an own goal before Messi hit a curling free kick strike into the top right corner beyond the dive of Paes.
It was reminiscent of Messi’s first goal for the Herons, when he scored from another dead ball to decide a 2-1 victory over Cruz Azul in the group stage of the tournament.
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