Lionel Messi, captain of Inter Miami, led his team to a victory against Nashville FC. They competed in the Leagues Cup final match on Saturday. The thrill of the game culminated with Messi landing a breathtaking scoring shot in the 23rd minute. That shot found its way past several defenders and into the goal. Thus, Inter Miami grabbed their first lead of the game.
But Nashville retaliated in the second half. Fafa Picault headed a corner kick that led to a goal. The ball bounced off Benjamin Cremaschi and Drake Callender, Inter Miami’s players, into the goal making the score level. The equalizer led the match straight into a penalty kick shootout.
Tensions soared as Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba scored penalties. The shootout extended into sudden death, and the goalkeepers had to take center stage. In a nerve-wracking turn of events, Callender saved Nashville’s goalkeeper Elliot Panicco’s attempt. This save sealed the victory for Inter Miami with a score of 10-9.
Although Inter Miami currently lags in the MLS standings, Messi’s arrival in June turned the tides. Since his debut, the team hasn’t suffered a single defeat. They’ve also set a new club record with seven straight victories in the competition, including a crucial win in the trophy match on Saturday.
Messi proved invaluable, scoring ten goals in the seven tournament matches. Further, he clinched the 44th trophy of his career, catapulting him into a unique place in soccer history. According to ESPN, he’s now the most decorated male footballer in history.
Additionally, the Leagues Cup victory has some significant implications. All teams in each league participated in the expanded version of the cup this year. So, Inter Miami now qualifies directly for the 2024 Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. As the runner-up, Nashville is also eligible for next year’s tournament. They’re slated to compete in the opening round.