Soccer player Lionel Messi scores a free kick on his debut for Inter Miami in the North American Leagues Cup game with me xic total Cruz Azul on July 22, 2023.
Fort Lauderdale (USA) – Argentina's star footballer Lionel Messi flashed the winning goal on his expected debut for Inter Miami. The 36-year-old midfielder scored a 2-1 win over Mexico's Cruz Azul in the North American Leagues Cup with a perfectly executed free kick in full time.
After just three training sessions with his new team, Messi entered the game in Fort Lauderdale as a substitute. Almost 21,000 spectators, and with them personalities from the world of sports and show business such as LeBron James, Serena Williams, Gloria Estefan or Kim Kardashian, saw the arrival of the seven-time winner of the Golden Ball in the 54th minute, when he came onto the field together with another new acquisition in the MLS team and former teammate from Barcelona, Sergio Busquets.
His team lost the lead soon after, but Messi managed to find himself in a few chances, creating another himself with imaginative passes, and his big moment came in the fourth minute of regulation when he curled his famous left-footed free-kick into the top corner of the net for a foul on himself. “It was the last action of the match, I wanted to score and not go to penalties,” said Messi.
He started a storm in the audience. Some spectators also ran onto the pitch and behind the goal fans lit smoke bombs in the club's pink color to celebrate the victory as the team entered the cup competition for 47 clubs from three countries. “This is exactly how we wanted to start and give the people a victory. We knew that a good start was important. Fortunately, we succeeded and I am happy,” added Messi. In MLS, Inter has failed to win eleven times in a row and is at the bottom of the table in the Eastern Conference. This time, however, co-owner David Beckham also had reasons to smile at the final whistle in the stands. “To tell the truth, when the free kick was whistled, I already knew that this match would end exactly like this,” boasted the former England international.
Messi, after leaving Paris St. Germain became a player for the Fort Lauderdale club in June. He signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with an option. The captain of the Argentine world champions from last year's championship in Qatar earns 50 to 60 million dollars (1.3 billion crowns) annually. According to the AP agency, the price of tickets for his debut ranged between $275 (5,800 crowns) and $19,000 (404,000 crowns) on the black market.