Lionel Messi scored twice and assisted in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United as he made his debut for Inter Miami CF at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday night, along with Sergio Busquets, who both joined MLS of the first.
It didn’t take long for the former Barcelona team-mate to get involved. Busquets found Messi with a perfect pass on the Atlanta defense, but his first attempt was saved, and he scored on the rebound in the 8th minute, giving Miami a 1-0 lead.
In the 22nd minute, Messi doubled the lead with another goal assisted by Rodolfo Pizarro to give Miami a 3-0 lead in the League Cup first round
Taylor added the final goal for Miami after the break, assisted by Messi in the 78th minute, to a thundering roar from the home crowd. Busquets came off six minutes ago and was replaced by Victor Ulloa.
Miami manager Gerardo Martino expressed his satisfaction: “It was a great game and I’m happy that we were able to impress our fans. It was a very good game and we took another step in the right direction.”
Miami won their group and advanced to the League Cup Round of 32, where they will host a designated opponent.
That game marked the 100th team Messi has scored against.
Messi and Busquets played together for 13 years in Barcelona’s first team before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 and have become close friends since winning the title at Camp Nou
“We’ve played together for so many years that it’s very easy to play alongside him. I’m really happy to be with him,” Busquets said.
In Friday’s dramatic win over Cruz Azul, Messi and Busquets made their presence felt despite being brought on as substitutes, with Messi scoring the winning goal in the penalty shoot-out
Having managed Messi and Busquets at Barcelona, it was no surprise that Martino saw the connection between the opening goal. “Both players are good at what they do and make room for others,” he said.
Miami right-back Deandre Yedlin said of the change Messi and Busquets brought to the team: “The atmosphere has changed since they arrived. People are obviously happy. Obviously they make everyone more confident. I think.” that the team we play against also has a little bit of fear in their eyes.”
Martino’s game against his former club was also his first match against them since winning the MLS Cup in 2018. When he was appointed as Miami coach on June 28, he insisted Messi would captain the team he has led them forward
He said, “I think the fans react to what they see and what the team says. A lot of people come to watch Messi play. Celebrities are the usual fans. He’s different, but he can extend that support from his’ fans there into the rest of the team.”
Asked how many fans turned up after Messi’s arrival, he said, “I didn’t really intend. Messi is a global star, some fans just come to see him, but if they stay until they fall in love with him” to support team is in the end, I can understand that too”.
On Friday, Messi delighted Miami fans with a trademark moment and kicked a free kick into the top corner to secure a 2-1 victory over Charlotte FC in his MLS home debut accompanied by MLS commissioner David Beckham.
Miami and Atlanta are currently competing in the first round of the Leagues Cup, a World Cup-style competition between MLS and Liga MX teams. Messi is expected to make his debut for Miami on August 20 against Charlotte.
While the one player everyone was eagerly waiting for was Messi, another former Barcelona player, Jordi Alba, who signed with Miami on July 20, was not included in the team’s roster for the game against Atlanta