Lionel Messi scores exhilarating game-winning goal in MLS debut


Lionel Messi sure has a flair for the dramatic.

In his Major League Soccer debut, Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, scored the game-winning goal in extra time to give Inter Miami a 2-1 victory over Cruz Azul in the League’s Cup.

Messi started the game on the bench and entered in the 53rd minute to a rousing ovation – several A-listers like LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, and Serena Williams were in attendance.

He entered the game with his team up 1-0, but Cruz Azul scored to tie it. But Messi wanted to give the fans a show.


messi after goal

Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring a goal against Cruz Azul during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium.  (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sport)

On a free kick just outside the box in the 94th minute, Messi’s legendary left foot floated a shot over the group of players that formed a wall in front of him and found the top-left corner of the net.

And everyone went nuts.

Ticket prices for Inter Miami games have skyrocketed since his decision to come to MLS. As of Tuesday morning, Messi’s signing added $10,671,923 in secondary market ticket value for remaining Inter Miami CF home games and a whopping $24,407,578 for their remaining road games, according to information acquired by TicketIQ.

It’s been discussed that the team could play some of its games at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins, simply due to the demand he presents. For now, silver bleachers were added last week to the northeast and southeast corners of DRV PNK Stadium, increasing capacity by about 3,000 seats and totaling around 21,000. 

That will still leave it well short of the nearly 100,000 seats at Camp Nou, where Messi rose to international stardom.

Messi made the announcement he would come to MLS last month.

Messi hugs teammate

Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates with forward Josef Martinez (17) after scoring a goal against Cruz Azul during the second half at DRV PNK Stadium.  (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)


“After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way and to enjoy the day-to-day more – obviously, with the same responsibility and desire to play well and do things well, as always, but in a calmer way,” Messi said last month.

inter miami celebrates

Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami CF celebrates with teammates after kicking the game winning goal during the second half of the Leagues Cup 2023 match between Cruz Azul and Inter Miami CF at DRV PNK Stadium on July 21, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)


Messi, at age 36, continues to play at an elite level, scoring 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 matches for France’s Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 during the 2022-2023 season. He is also fresh off a World Cup victory with Argentina as he finally got the elusive hardware in his possession, which many believe solidifies his place as the best footballer to grace a pitch in history.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be in south Florida through the 2025 season.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.


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