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Lionel Messi’s brilliance propels Inter Miami to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup

Multiple goals from Messi, including a stunning free kick, help Miami advance in the Leagues Cup

MLS: Leagues Cup-Inter Miami CF at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Inter Miami CF squared off with Dallas FC in Round of 16 of the Leagues Cup on Sunday night. It was just Lionel Messi’s fourth game with the club.

And Miami would need every little bit of Messi Magic to advance.

Miami topped Dallas in the match thanks to a penalty shootout, thanks in large part to a pair of goals from Messi during the first 90 minutes that enabled a Miami comeback, forcing the match to penalty kicks.

In just the sixth minute of the match, Miami pushed forward, with Robert Taylor leaving a pass for Jordi Alba along the left side of the box. Alba, has he has probably done countless times in his life, found an unmarked Messi at the edge of the box, who used a brilliant left-footed first touch to rocket a shot past Maarten Paes for the goal:

Again, Alba finding Messi to set up a scoring chance is nothing new in the world of soccer. The pair played together from 2012 until 2021, and formed one of the most lethal combinations in the game. Alba’s understanding of Messi’s movement and spacing made the two a formidable pair during their time together at Barcelona, and now MLS fans are getting to see that combination up close.

However, Messi was not done.

Miami trailed 2-1 at the halftime break, and fell down by two goals in the second half. But after a disastrous own goal cut the Dallas lead to 4-3 late in the match, Messi had a chance on a free kick to deliver the equalizer.

He did not disappoint:

Messi found the upper corner of the net to tie the game at four, and frankly, this reaction from one of his teammates tells the entire story:

Simply sublime from Messi.

This replay angle shows the precision in Messi’s strike:

The match ended level, and proceeded to penalty kicks to determine who would advance out of the Round of 16.

And of course, it was Messi who stepped to the spot first, and converted with a shot into the bottom-right corner.

He had third.

Miami converted their first four penalty chances, and a miss Paxton Pomykal gave them the chance to convert with just one more successful chance from the spot. Benjamin Cremaschi stepped to the ball, and completed Miami’s comeback:

Since Messi joined the club, Miami has won four-straight matches to now advance to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup. But on this night, the club needed every bit of Messi Magic to advance.

Miami will now host the winner of Monday night’s match between Charlotte FC and Houston Dynamo in the quarterfinals.

Perhaps some more Messi Magic will be in the cards.