Unstoppable Lionel Messi powers Inter Miami into Leagues Cup quarter-finals

Argentine star nets brace as Miami defeat Dallas on penalties following thrilling 4-4 draw

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Lionel Messi continued his irresistible form for Inter Miami as he scored twice, including a late equaliser, to help his team move past FC Dallas and into the quarter-finals of the Leagues Cup on penalties following a thrilling 4-4 draw in normal time.

A trademark curling free-kick in the 85th minute, Messi's seventh goal in his fourth game for Miami, took the game to the shootout after Miami had trailed 4-2 with 10 minutes to go.

The Leagues Cup is a tournament for clubs from Major League Soccer and Mexico's Liga MX and does not feature extra time. Matches that finish in a draw in regular time go straight to penalties.

Messi put Miami ahead in the sixth minute with a clinical side-foot finish from a Jordi Alba pull-back.

It was initially ruled out for offside but the decision was reversed on review. Dallas drew level in the 37th minute through Argentine Facundo Quignon.

The home side grabbed the lead on the stroke of half-time with an outstanding finish from Bernard Kamungo who left two defenders behind before burying the chance.

Another of Dallas's Argentine players, Alan Velasco, made it 3-1 in the 63rd minute with a free-kick from the left which flew untouched through a crowded box and into the far corner.

Miami reduced the deficit through teenage substitute Benjamin Cremaschi, who slotted in a low ball from Alba, just a minute after coming off the bench.

An own goal from Robert Taylor, as he tried to intercept a Paul Arriola pass, restored the two-goal cushion for Dallas at 4-2.

Then, it was time for Messi to take centre stage. The Argentine great chipped a free-kick into the box and Marco Farfan, unchallenged, inexplicably headed into his own goal to keep Miami alive.

Five minutes from the end, Messi curled a free-kick from 20 yards superbly into the top corner to take it to penalties.

Messi converted the first penalty in the shoot-out, Paxton Pomykal missed for Dallas, and Cremaschi secured Miami's place in the last eight with the final spot-kick.

It was the perfect day for fans in Dallas. Tickets for the Miami game were sold out in 10 minutes, underscoring how much of a boost Messi is providing to US football.

The 10-minute sellout was the fastest ever for FC Dallas, according to team officials. Ticket prices started at $300, with tickets on the official resale marketplace AXS going for more than $600. The stadium has a seating capacity of close to 20,000.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 5:32 AM