Lionel Messi bookended regulation with a pair of dramatic goals, including a game-tying effort in the 84th minute. (Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi scored five goals in his first three with games with Inter Miami.
On Sunday, it took him less than six minutes to score No. 6 in a Leagues Cup knockout match against FC Dallas. He bookended the score with a dramatic game-tying goal late in regulation to send the game into penalty kicks, tied at 4-4. There, Miami won the shootout, 5-4 to advance to the Leagues Cup quarterfinals.
Miami secured the win on a muggy North Texas night with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in front of a Dallas home crowd hoping to witness Messi’s first loss with Miami. They got their money’s worth with a sensational show, but watched the home team lose a late 4-2 lead thanks in part to Messi’s heroics.
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Messi strikes first, again
Messi kicked off the scoring with a spectacular goal. As the clock approached the six-minute mark, Jordi Alba took a pass from Robert Taylor down the left sideline. Alba passed it back to the top of the box, where Messi was waiting. From there, the superstar striker found the back of the net with a scorching one-timer past goaltender Maarten Paes.
Paes protested that Miami’s Josef Martínez was offside. But officials determined that Martínez didn’t impede Paes’ line of sight, and ruled the goal good. It was the third time in three starts that Messi scored in the first 10 minutes with Miami after he came off the bench in his first game to score the game-winning goal in extra time.
Dallas strikes back
It didn’t take long for Dallas to respond. As the game approached its 37th minute, Dallas’ Marco Farfan took a pass in the left corner near the baseline. He immediately sent it back into the box, where Facundo Quignon slipped it past goaltender Drake Callender to the right side of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Minutes later, Bernard Kamungo beat Callender on a transition goal to give Dallas a 2-1 lead.
Miami entered the break with a halftime deficit for the first time since Messi joined the team. After halftime, Dallas extended its lead to 3-1 with a set-piece goal from Alan Velasco in the 62nd minute.
Own goal appears to doom Miami
Then disaster struck for Miami. Dallas scored on an own-goal when Taylor accidentally knocked the ball past Callendar while trailing in transition.
Another own goal, then Messi heroics
Messi’s magical Leagues Cup debut appeared to be done at the 67th minute. But Miami would rally to tie the game in dramatic fashion. Dallas returned the own-goal favor in the 80th minute when Farfan headed the ball past Paes on a Messi free kick to cut Miami’s deficit to 4-3.
Then, Messi did it again. In the 84th minute, he sent a free kick over Paes to the back of the net to tie the game at 4-4 and force the game to penalty kicks.
There, Messi struck first to give Miami a 1-0 lead. Miami would go on to score on all of its shots while a failed attempt by Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal proved to be the difference in the game.
Miami improves to 4-0 since Messi joined the team in June from Paris Saint-Germain. It will next face the winner of Monday’s game between Charlotte FC and the Houston Dyanamo in the Leagues Cup quarterfinals.