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Lionel Messi scores in MLS debut as Inter Miami beat Red Bulls

Aug 26, 2023; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Red Bulls with midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi (30) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Lionel Messi entered as a substitute in the 60th minute and scored his first MLS goal in spectacular fashion in the 89th to seal Inter Miami’s 2-0 win over the host New York Red Bulls in front of a raucous crowd in Harrison, N.J., on Saturday night.

Moments after his free kick was blocked by New York’s five-man wall, Messi moved the ball by five New York defenders to Benjamin Cremaschi. Messi then moved to the center of the net, waited for Cremaschi’s return feed and scored into an open net as New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel was well out of position to stop the 36-year-old star.

It was Messi’s 11th goal in all competitions since joining Miami (6-14-3, 21 points) July 15 and sealed the club’s first win since May 13. Before Messi sealed the win, Miami had been 0-8-3 in its previous 11 MLS matches.

Messi did not warm up but fans began chanting for him in the opening minutes and again in the 35th — right before Diego Gomez scored his first MLS goal in his MLS debut after signing with Miami five days after Messi.

In the 37th after New York could not properly clear following a Miami set piece, Noah Allen gained possession and connected a streaking Gomez who blasted a left-footed shot from the middle of the box into the bottom right corner past Coronel’s right hand.

Messi entered in the 60th minute for Leonardo Campana, who moments before the star’s big entrance missed the net.

Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender made four saves for his fourth clean sheet of the season and seventh of his career. He made a diving stop on Tom Barlow in the 57th and a leaping stop with his right hand on Omir Fernandez’s header in the 50th.

Coronel finished with one save as the Red Bulls (7-10-8, 29 points) lost for the third time in four games and were unable to get a late goal like they did on Sunday to beat D.C. United.

–Field Level Media

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