When Lionel Messi fixed a dead ball deep in stoppage time, David Beckham had a hunch in the stands. “I knew that was the way this game had to end,” the Inter Miami owner later said with a smile.
Because Beckham was right: Messi ran in for a free kick, curled the ball into the corner from 22 meters out – and put 20,000 Fort Lauderdale fans into ecstasy.
“We wanted to start like this and give people a win here,” Messi said after making his cinematic debut in a Miami shirt.
His dream goal was a 2-1 victory over Mexican club Cruz Azul in the group stage of the League Cup – a cup competition involving 47 clubs from the USA, Mexico and Canada.
Messi happy with a successful debut for Miami
No wonder the fans are scared: some ran onto the pitch after the goal and had to be stopped by security forces, behind the goal, fans set off pink Miami FC smoke bombs.
A smile spread on Beckham’s face in the stands, and not far from him, basketball legend LeBron James, TV star Kim Kardashian and tennis player Serena Williams enthusiastically applauded.
In the league, Miami are bottom of the standings after an 11-game winless run, but now everything has to pick up – with Messi’s Inter hoping to catch up.
The start in the Cup against the eight-time champions of Mexico was successful. “We knew it was very important to start well. Luckily we were able to do it, I’m very happy,” said Messi.
Even in front of his own net, the 36-year-old has proven that he is far from old-fashioned. But even then, patience was also required of the fans, who came in droves in the number 10 jerseys of Miami and Argentina.
Beckham: “What a moment for this league”
Because Messi was initially on the bench with his family after a week’s Caribbean vacation. When Miami then conceded an equalizer in the 54th minute shortly after substituting Messi, there was little to suggest he made his cinematic debut.
But the end of Hollywood is yet to come. Messi and Sergio Busquets, who was brought in and replaced at the same time, understood each other blindly, as they did in Barcelona.
Every touch of Messi’s ball was met with a puff and tension erupted in the fourth minute of extra time.
“What a moment for this country, what a moment for this league,” said Beckham. MLS immediately tweeted: “Lionel Andres Messi is not a human being” — in all caps, of course.
And it goes straight on: the cup match at home against Atlanta United is already awaiting Messi & Co on Tuesday. There is hardly any time to take a deep breath.
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