Lionel Messi defeats Charlotte in quarterfinals

Lionel Messi defeats Charlotte in quarterfinals

FORT LAUDERDALE – Lionel Messi took a bit more time than usual to deliver one of his signature impressive goals in his early days with Inter Miami. Nonetheless, he ultimately came through, living up to the expectations of the fans.

In the 86th minute, Messi found the back of the net, adding a final touch to Inter Miami’s convincing 4-0 victory over Charlotte FC in the Leagues Cup quarterfinal held on Friday night at DRV PNK Stadium.

With eight goals achieved across five games, all resulting in victories for Inter Miami, the team has now secured a spot in the semi-finals of the Leagues Cup tournament.

This accomplishment is quite exceptional for a team that was positioned at the bottom of the MLS playoff race standings, a situation that changed after the addition of Messi to the franchise, which is co-owned by soccer legend David Beckham.

“I believe this signifies a significant moment with high expectations of achieving something significant,” remarked Inter Miami coach Tata Martino. He previously coached Messi at FC Barcelona and the Argentine national team, and he shared his perspective regarding the team’s potential in the tournament.

 Messi’s next match

Inter Miami is scheduled to play against the Philadelphia Union in the Leagues Cup semifinal on Wednesday, August 16th, away from home.

 

Messi’s next match

 Messi perform in this match

In his initial three starts for Inter Miami, Messi managed to find the net within the opening eight minutes of each game. Impressively, he outdid himself by scoring in even earlier intervals – the eighth, seventh, and sixth minutes – in those particular matches.

However, in this instance, Messi didn’t feel the need to deliver such early theatrics.

Josef Martinez successfully converted a penalty kick in the 12th minute, followed by Robert Taylor’s goal in the 32nd minute, enabling Inter Miami to secure a 2-0 advantage at halftime. An own goal in the 78th minute further solidified their lead against a determined Charlotte team that struggled to capitalize on its chances.

In the concluding minutes, Messi delighted the fans by scoring and leaving them with a smile. This once again demonstrated his ability to meet the heightened expectations associated with “Messi Mania” since his arrival at the Miami MLS side just last month.

Messi the one taking the early penalty kick

Martino, who previously coached Martinez during his time at Atlanta United from 2017 to 2018, explained that he had no reservations about having either Messi or Martinez take those chances.

Ultimately, Martino holds confidence in both players’ abilities. In this particular game, Martinez might have required the participation more than Messi, considering that Messi had already showcased his brilliance in previous matches.

Inter Miami progress in the Leagues Cup

Charlotte coach Christian Lattanzio had glowing praise for Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba – former FC Barcelona stars who are now part of the Inter Miami team.

“When you bring three players who are the standout stars, from a team that experts have labeled as possibly the best ever, what do you expect?” Lattanzio remarked.

He continued, “Moreover, having Messi on your side means he only needs a single opportunity, a mere second in the game. It takes sharpness to prevent him from conjuring the magic he’s been known for since he joined Barcelona at the age of 16.”

Lattanzio holds a positive view of Inter Miami’s potential. He believes they have what it takes to win the Leagues Cup. Additionally, he sees them as contenders for the U.S. Open Cup, in which Inter Miami will play a semifinal match on August 23rd.

“I’m not certain if they are the absolute favorites, but they certainly have the potential to clinch the victory in the competition,” Lattanzio expressed.

 

Furthermore, Lattanzio believes that Inter Miami has the capability to progress from their current position at the bottom and make a notable journey to qualify for the MLS playoffs once the regular season resumes.

“Should they figure out a strategy to secure a playoff spot, they possess the ability to emerge victorious,” he stated.

 The second semifinal will feature a matchup between Mexico’s Monterrey and MLS team Nashville FC.

“This tournament commenced with 47 teams,” Martino commented. “And Miami, a team that occupied the last position in its group, has already advanced to the semifinals. This situation indicates a significant moment where we can foster hopeful aspirations of achieving something substantial. We aim to secure victory, although Philadelphia will undoubtedly be equally motivated,” he added.

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