Lionel Messi has now scored nine goals in just six games with Inter Miami. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi’s remarkable run with Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup continued Tuesday night.
Messi and Inter Miami rolled over the Philadelphia Union 4-1 in dominant fashion to secure their spot in the Leagues Cup final. The win sends Miami to its first ever final appearance in club history, and continues an incredible turnaround for a club that is the worst in Major League Soccer. It also will send Inter Miami to their first ever CONCACAF Champions Cup next year.
Messi, after Josef Martínez kicked things off with an early goal, picked up his ninth goal in just six games with the club. Messi caught a pass from Martínez, who was tackled in the process, and took off near midfield before launching a shot through three Union defenders. The goal pushed Miami’s lead to 2-0 not even 20 minutes into the contest.
The goal came after Martínez’s opening goal in the third minute. Sergii Kryvtsov snuck a deep through ball up the right side of the field to Martínez, who then fired across to the left side post and in for the first goal of the night — which absolutely stunned fans at Subaru Park in Pennsylvania.
Miami then picked up a third goal before halftime after Jordi Alba broke free up the left side of the field in the 47th minute. Alba flew past the Union back line and had nobody around him when he scored to put them up 3-0.
That led to a very loud chorus of boos from Union fans as they entered the locker room.
“We set ourselves up for failure by making a big mistake in the third minute and we’re chasing the game from there,” Union coach Jim Curtain said at halftime.
Philadelphia finally got on the board in the 73rd minute. Alejandro Bedoya, off a rebound from corner kick, scored between the legs of Miami’s DeAndre Yedlin from the right side of the box.
But Miami responded perfectly to seal the win. David Ruiz added another goal for Inter Miami in the 83rd minute, which secured the three-goal win.
Messi has absolutely dominated since his arrival in South Florida. He quickly turned Miami into the favorites to win the Leagues Cup on BetMGM entering Tuesday night despite their last-place position in MLS’ Eastern Conference.
Miami has now won six straight matches, which has surpassed its MLS wins total this season, and Messi has scored nine goals. As a club, Miami has scored 21 times — which is just one goal shy of matching their 22 goals scored in MLS play.
Tuesday’s game was just Messi’s second road trip with the club. The Union have lost just one home game at Subaru Park in the last two seasons, and they’ve only given up four goals in Leagues Cup play before Tuesday night. The Union beat Querétaro 2-0 in their quarterfinal match Friday, which followed back-to-back penalty shootout wins.
Miami will now advance to the finals, where Nashville SC will be waiting for them on Saturday. Nashville beat Monterrey 2-0 in their semifinal match on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Sam Surridge and Fafà Picault.
Revisit the Miami-Philadelphia action here with Yahoo Sports: