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HomeSportsInter Miami CF 3-1 Orlando City SC (Aug 2, 2023) Game Analysis

Inter Miami CF 3-1 Orlando City SC (Aug 2, 2023) Game Analysis

Lionel Messi’s incredible start for Inter Miami CF continued as he scored twice in a 3-1 Leagues Cup win over Orlando City SC to help his team advance to the round of 16 in the inaugural competition.

Messi started the game with a bang, settling Robert Taylor’s lofted ball into the box and smashing a volley past Orlando’s Pedro Gallese for an early lead and his fourth goal in the Leagues Cup so far.

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Orlando got back in the game 10 minutes later with a goal from César Araujo in an increasingly chippy first half that saw Messi pick up a yellow card and Orlando’s Kyle Smith also being cautioned by the referee just before the break.

There was a confrontation between the World Cup champion and Araujo that would extend past the whistle and into the tunnel, with Messi visibly agitated following the physical finish to the first half.

Josef Martínez drew a foul in the area from Orlando’s Antônio Carlos early in the second half and Messi deferred to his Miami teammate on the spot kick, allowing the former Atlanta United striker to do the honors from the spot and restore the home side’s lead.

Inter Miami had a scare early in the second half when Orlando’s Mauricio Pereyra collided with Messi. Messi remained on the ground, favoring his jaw for a couple of minutes before reaching his feet.

Miami coach Gerardo Martino brought on new arrival Jordi Alba in the 63rd minute to make his MLS debut, as the long-time Barcelona defender reunited with his former teammates Messi and Sergio Busquets in South Beach.

Shortly after, Messi scored his fifth goal since joining Miami, volleying home another close-range strike to seal the victory as Martinez provided the assist with a deft chip back across the top of the six-yard box.

The round of 32 game was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, but was delayed 90 minutes due to heavy thunderstorms in the area. Miami faces FC Dallas in Frisco in the next round, Messi’s first match on the road since signing with the team.

ESPN writer Ross Devonport contributed to this story.

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