• July 25, 2024

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami triumph in dramatic Leagues Cup final – 5 talking points

Lionel Messi and Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup final on penalties in dramatic fashion to hand David Beckham his first trophy as owner.

The Geodis Park proved a cauldron of atmosphere for the Leagues Cup final and it was a real who’s who event. Nashville are rich with celebrity investors and they certainly made the most of the occasion; NBA and Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo was in the stands, while Reese Witherspoon delivered the match ball pre-kick-off.

The spectacle started in a feisty manner with challenges flying in from Nashville, much to Sergio Busquets’ disdain. But it was Miami who delivered the first crushing- blow with Messi scoring a jaw-dropping goal from the edge of the box on minute 23.

Nashville hit back in the second half through a Fafa Picault header after Miami failed to deal with a corner. This was promptly followed by Messi hitting the post with yet another long-range effort.

In the dying seconds, Leonardo Campana agonisingly missed an open goal meaning the tie to went penalties.

 

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Messi booed

Booing isn’t totally uncommon in MLS but, given that the majority of fans attending – Nashville, Miami or otherwise – were, if we’re being brutally honest, there to see Messi, it was a surprise to hear the Miami No. 10 booed.

Messi was booed in the warm up, booed while leading his team out onto the pitch and booed when he first touched the ball after kick-off. This is likely down to fear more than any actual hate for the player.

And for good reason because Messi showed them exactly why they should be petrified 23 minutes later.

 

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Aggressive Nashville start

Nashville made the most of their home advantage and started incredibly aggressively. Busquets was fouled early, Messi took an elbow and they attacked with real menace.

Drake Callender was called into action a couple of times within the first 20 minutes. The shot-stopper was forced to rush out of his area and head a ball away to prevent a one-on-one opportunity. He then pulled off a solid stop to deny Walker Zimmerman’s header from a long throw.

The hosts’ brilliant start meant they became the first team to stop Miami scoring in the first 15 minutes when all of Messi, Busquets and Alba have started.

 

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Marvellous, marvellous Messi

Unfortunately for Nashville their excellent work was undone on minute 23 by, yes you guessed it, Messi. Showing the cute dribbling skill he built his career on at Barcelona, Messi skipped past one, two Nashville players before curling the ball from outside the box into the top left corner.

He looked 28 and in the form of his life again. Unfortunately for Nashville, Zimmerman was one of the player’s he dribbled past who probably wished he put a bit more behind his header only moments before.

Commentators on Apple TV said players ‘must get closer, must be sharper’. But the level of opposition is irrelevant. No one is stopping his 37th goal in a final.

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