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Messi Entered the Game on Fire and Scored a Stunning Goal, but It Wasn’t Enough for Inter Miami

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lionel Messi scored a great goal for the tie and provided a key pass to turn the game around, but Tata Martino’s team let it slip away in the end.

It had been 24 days since Lionel Messi last played. For Inter Miami, which had won only one of four matches without him and was coming off a tough defeat in every way against Monterrey in the Concachampions quarter-final first leg, it felt like an eternity.

But in 45 minutes, it seemed all problems were solved. The pink number 10 reappeared at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and the bleak outlook brightened with the football of the world’s best, according to Olé.

The Argentine national team captain entered after halftime with his team down 0-1 against Colorado Rapids, and it was a return in full glory, as if he had never suffered the muscle injury that had sidelined him. True, the game ended 2-2, but it didn’t overshadow a great comeback by number 10.

Gerardo Martino’s makeshift team, which had struggled in the first half, enjoyed how Leo started playing in the second. In just 15 minutes with him on the field, the Herons reversed the score to lead 2-1. And it was all thanks to Messi’s left foot, scoring the 1-1 with a first-time shot entering the box after a cross from Franco Negri.

The left-back, formerly of Newell’s, had returned to the pitch after tearing his ligaments in June 2023 and combined with Leo in his first game back. Shortly after, Lionel led the attack again, passing to David Ruiz, and the Brazilian Afonso celebrated the 2-1 that seemed to complete what looked like a pink party.

However, Tata’s team’s defensive disorganization resurfaced: the visiting team took advantage of a counterattack and scored the 2-2 towards the end of the match. Earlier, the 0-1 had been a naive penalty by Sailor when nothing was happening.

With this point, Inter remains at the top of the Eastern Conference, but the most important aspect was seeing Messi back in great form. He even took a selfie on the pitch with a young girl who ran onto the field.

And all eyes are now on Wednesday’s rematch against Monterrey in Mexico, aiming to overturn the 1-2 deficit in a heated context. The pre-match comments by coach Fernando Ortiz, questioning the refereeing, and a viral audio from Nicolás Sánchez, Ortiz’s assistant, stating there was a heated argument with Messi at the locker room door, added fuel to the fire.

This is the match Inter Miami is focusing on, hoping to make history by reversing the result and hence rested key players (Luis Suárez, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and others). Messi played more than 45 minutes, making it clear he will be ready to lead the team in what’s to come. The injury that also prevented him from being with the national team seems to be behind him. Messi is back, and he’s Fast and Furious.

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