Lionel Messi’s immediate influence in the United States continued on Tuesday, as he scored twice in Inter Miami’s 4-0 victory over Atlanta United, propelling his team into the Leagues Cup knockout rounds.
After coming off the bench and scoring a 94th-minute winner against Mexican club Cruz Azul on Friday, the Argentine World Cup winner was given his first start for his new team.
Messi was simply too much for Atlanta to handle in his debut game against a Major League Soccer side, and he struck up a beneficial partnership with Finnish winger Robert Taylor, who assisted on Miami’s other two goals.
The Leagues Cup is a tournament that brings together all of the top tier teams from MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX. Miami leads their group with two wins, and with their new arrival seeming established so quickly, they will definitely believe they can win their first ever title.
Messi wasted no time in getting on the scoresheet, putting the home side ahead in the eighth minute when he was sent free by a ball over the top from his former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets.
Messi burst into the box and although his low shot struck the post, he made no mistake with the rebound, side-footing into the goal.
The seven-times Ballon d’Or winner then doubled the advantage in the 22nd minute, the first of three goals that saw him combine with Finnish winger Robert Taylor.
Messi ran at the back-pedalling Atlanta defence before switching to Taylor who slid the ball back into the path of the 36-year-old who made no mistake.