Two More Lionel Messi Goals Help Inter Miami Beat Orlando City To Reach Leagues Cup Round Of 16

Lionel Messi scored twice as Inter Miami progressed to the round of 16 in the Leagues Cup by beating Orlando City 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Messi opened the scoring with his fourth goal in three games for Miami but Cesar Araujo equalized for Orlando during a hectic first half.

Josef Martinez restored Miami’s lead from a penalty kick in the 51st minute before Messi struck again to wrap up another impressive victory.

Miami have now won three games in a row following Messi’s introduction – having gone 11 matches without a victory prior to his debut.

Sergio Busquets also made his third Miami appearance during Wednesday’s game, while Jordi Alba made his debut as a 64th-minute substitute.

Miami will now face FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium for a place in the quarter-finals.

The start of the game was delayed by more than an hour and a half due to bad weather in Florida.

But once it kicked off, it took Messi less than seven minutes to open the scoring.

Messi timed an off-the-ball run to perfection before controlling a lofted Robert Taylor through pass on his chest and then volleying a shot past Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese from six yards.

Orlando currently sit 19 points ahead of Miami in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference.

So it was perhaps not a huge surprise when the away side equalized 10 minutes after Miami’s opener.

Orlando caught Miami out with a sharp corner routine that found Ivan Angulo in space. Angulo’s low shot was well saved by Drake Callender before Cesar Araujo slammed home from the rebound.

Messi received the first yellow card of his Miami career in the 20th minute for kicking the ankle of Wilder Cartagena after the ball had gone.

The Argentina captain then almost restored Miami’s lead just after the half-hour mark when he struck the post following excellent work by DeAndre Yedlin.

Messi has made a busy start to life in Miami.

He featured in two Leagues Cup group games in July, scoring three goals and assisting another. Messi scored direct from a 94th-minute free-kick to earn his new team a 2-1 win over Cruz Azul on his debut, before providing two goals and an assist in a 4-0 victory over Atlanta United four days later.

He came close to converting another free-kick moments before half-time on Wednesday when he was denied by a superb save from Gallese.

After announcing his decision to join Miami earlier this summer, Messi vowed that he was going to continue to play “with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”

However, he was far from calm at the end of the first half. Messi was seen arguing with Araujo as the players left the field at the interval.

Their disagreement came after Kyle Smith had been booked just before the break for a foul on Messi, who demanded action from the referee by waving an imaginary yellow card.

Referee Ivan Barton awarded Miami a very soft penalty kick three minutes into the second half when Antonio Carlos was adjudged to have fouled Martinez, who dramatically threw himself to the ground.

The incident was reviewed by the VAR and it was decided that the official from El Salvador had not made a clear and obvious error.

Out came the camera phones as 20,000 fans expected to see Messi step up to score his fifth goal for Miami.

But instead the captain delegated the responsibility of taking the spot-kick to the player who had won it.

Martinez duly found the net to register his ninth career goal against Orlando.

Fans did not have to wait too long to see Messi’s fifth Miami goal though.

It arrived 18 minutes from the end of Wednesday’s game when Messi connected sweetly with a volley from eight yards following a delicate assist by Martinez.

Orlando’s Araujo had a goal disallowed for offside by the VAR deep into added time. But it likely would have been too little, too late even if it had stood.

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