Lionel Messi steers Inter Miami to Leagues Cup championship title

What a win for Lionel Messi and Inter Miami (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Lionel Messi winning era with Inter Miami just formally began.

Acquired to help the club win a title and change the fortunes of their franchise, the Argentinian football superstar didn’t disappoint and helped Inter Miami capture its first-ever Leagues Cup championship trophy last August 20, 2023, against Nashville SC on penalties, 10-9.

Inter Miami kicked off the title match flat after missing on several golden opportunities to draw first blood and gain early momentum.

However, Messi once again proved to be Inter Miami’s hero after breaking the 0-all deadlock in the 23rd minute of the first half.

After a pass from his teammate Robert Taylor got partially deflected by a Nashville defender, the ball went to Messi’s striking distance and fired a terrific conversion outside the penalty box for the 1-0 lead.

Nashville’s Walker Zimmerman tried to block Messi’s looping goal but the seven-time Ballon d’Or award recipient found the opening and sent the ball in the top left corner of the goalpost.

Just when Inter Miami thought they could lean on Messi’s score, the football club’s momentum was suddenly halted after Nashville sent in the answer in the 56th minute.

Nashville countered with their own goal courtesy of Fafa Picault’s header from a corner kick that calmy rolled to Inter Miami’s goal.

The nip-and-tuck affair continued, with both squads deploying their several offensive sets but Inter Miami and Nashville failed to add another goal in the regulation time.

Messi had a clear chance of scoring a brace in the 71st minute but his attempt hit the bar of the goalpost.

The ending was thrilling as expected, with Inter Miami leading by a point in the penalty shootout, 10-9, and Nashville got ready for their shot to equalize the score at 10-all.

Drake Callender, Inter Miami’s goalkeeper, won the match for Messi and the rest of the squad after tallying the game-winning save.