Lionel Messi produced two fantastic assists and decisive penalty when Inter Miami needed him most to send his side to the US Open Cup final.
Can’t celebrate without Messi. 😂 pic.twitter.com/epHYbl0YXX— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 20, 2023
However, it looked as though they were heading to defeat against FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup semi final.
Messi’s side had struggled for much of the game, and found themselves two goals down.
Cincinnati went ahead in the first half through Luciano Acosta and looked fairly dominant throughout.
They doubled their lead in the 53rd minute through Brandon Vazquez, and Miami looked like they were heading out of the cup.
But Messi had other ideas.
Watch Messi's first Assist...
The Argentinian stepped up in the 68th minute to whip in a wonderful free kick that found the head of Leonardo Campana and into the back of the net.
We were in the depths of injury time as it looked and Messi’s first loss looked more than likely, however, as he had done time and time before, the number 10 pulled out a moment of brilliance.
Collecting the ball about 35 yards from goal the former Barcelona player whipped in an incredible ball over the top and again onto the head of Campana to equalise for Miami.
The equaliser came in the 97th minute sending the semi-final into extra time.
Watch Messi's second Assist...
Otro más de Leo para Leo en el minuto 97! 🤯🔥 pic.twitter.com/5n5JMsjS1T— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) August 24, 2023
Even with tired legs throughout their squad, momentum was with the Miami side as became more than clear early into the added 30.
Josef Martinez was played through on goal in the 93rd minute and slotted the ball into the net to give Inter Miami the 3-2 lead.
It signalled a complete turnaround for the side who seemed intent on continuing their fantastic run.
However, a Yuya Kabo goal for Cincinnati in the 114th minute meant the game was heading to penalties.
It was Miami's second penalty shootout in as many games.
Lionel Messi would convert his penalty as Miami secured a perfect five penalties to give them the win.
Watch Messi's Penalty....
Leo Messi’s penalty 😤pic.twitter.com/ouiUkkqUNI— Leo Messi 🔟 Fan Club (@WeAreMessi) August 24, 2023
Nick Hagglund would have his penalty saved by Drake Callender with Benjamin Cremaschi scoring the deciding spot kick.
Messi's heroics throughout the game would open up the door for a brilliant comeback in the semi-final.
MESSI IS BEING THROWN IN THE AIR TO CELEBRATE pic.twitter.com/NXqiRsggos— MC (@CrewsMat10) August 20, 2023
Messi and Inter Miami are now into their second cup final since his signing in July.