Frisco, USA. 06th Aug, 2023. Frisco, Texas, United States: Miami's captain Lionel Messi in action during the Leagues Cup match between FC Dallas and Inter Miami played at Toyota Stadium on Sunday August 6, 2023.

Lionel Messi’s latest miraculous assist should be savoured from every angle

Lionel Messi failed to score for the first time in an Inter Miami shirt, but he was once again their hero as they came from behind to make it past FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup.

The Argentinian World Cup winner is America’s most high-profile import since the great Pele rocked up at New York Cosmos almost half a century ago.

Some warned that Messi wouldn’t find it easy to adapt to football in a new continent, but he’s proving them wrong with a series of incredible performances that are somehow living up to the hype.

Having set the tone with a match-winning, last-minute free-kick on his debut, Messi has come up clutch time and again and almost singlehandedly – with the aid of old pals Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets – turned Inter Miami’s fortunes around.

He was the club’s star man and top scorer as they claimed their first-ever trophy, scoring 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup appearances, plus a further two converted penalties in shootouts for good measure.

Still awaiting his MLS debut, Messi and Miami’s attention has turned to the next frontier – the US Open Cup, the knockout domestic cup competition of American soccer.

The side might have been languishing at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference when Messi arrived, but his team-mates did at least make it as far as the semi-finals of this competition without their added star power – and now their famous No.10 has inspired them to the final.

It looked as though Messi was set to endure his first setback with the club as Cincinnati took a two-goal lead, scoring early in each half. But he got his side back into the contest by whipping in a set-piece that was headed home by Miami’s No.9 Leonardo Campana midway through the second half.

And it was the pair that combined once again as they clocked ticked into the final minute of injury time. Messi picked the ball up deep, in innocuous enough territory, when he spotted Campana drifting towards the six-yard box.

You know what happens next. Weighting the ball perfectly, Messi put the ball on a six-pence for Campana to equalise.

The ball couldn’t have been sweeter. It evaded the covering defender and landed in the perfect spot for Campana. The pair made it look like a training exercise.

Geordie commentator Ray Hudson has made a career out of poetically narrating Messi’s finest moments, and he came up with another peach of a line after the 36-year-old’s latest hero moment:

“He’ll drop a pint of beer into a shot glass at the other end of the bar.”

We’re not quite sure if that makes any sense, but it definitely sounds right.

The equaliser set up extra time – where the two sides traded a further goal apiece – and a penalty shootout, where Messi once again scored first to once again help send Inter Miami to shootout success.

But forget the rest of the match. Your time is better spent savouring Messi’s ridiculous assist from every angle.

By Nestor Waatch

You can watch every single MLS match from wherever you are in the world with an MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

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