Messi golazo helps Miami beat SKC in front of 73K


A stunning long-range strike from Lionel Messi helped Inter Miami to a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City in front of a record crowd of 72,610 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday.

Making his first MLS start since March 2 after overcoming a hamstring injury, Messi let fly from 25 yards with his famed left foot to give Miami the lead six minutes into the second half.

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The home team, cheered on by minority owner and three-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes, played its part in an entertaining evening. Erik Thommy, who also gave his team the lead after six minutes, equalized with an impressive volley seven minutes after Messi’s strike.

But Miami avoided a sixth straight match without a win in all competition courtesy of a close-range finish from Messi’s ex-Barcelona teammate, Luis Suárez, in the 71st minute following an SKC defensive mishap.

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Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi delivered a standout moment for the record crowd in Kansas City.

The attendance was the biggest for Sporting Kansas City in its 28-year history and also a record for any soccer match in the state of Missouri. It was the fourth-highest attendance for a single match in MLS history.

SKC regularly plays its home matches at the 18,500-capacity Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas.

Messi, whose goal was his fifth in as many MLS games this season, also had a clever assist on Miami’s first-half leveler from Diego Gómez. The 36-year-old’s previous MLS start came in a 5-0 win over Orlando City at the start of March, before he went down injured in a March 13 Champions Cup game against Nashville SC.

The win brings to an end a difficult period for Miami, following a 5-2 aggregate loss to Mexico’s Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals and giving up a late goal to only draw at Colorado last Saturday.

“We had to get out of that dynamic of tying games, losing and making errors,” Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said in a news conference after Saturday’s game. “Today we managed to get out of that dynamic in a week that was difficult and long.

“We recovered sensations and ended up winning the game in a good way. In that way, we are satisfied.”

Messi played the entirety of Miami’s defeat at CF Monterrey on Wednesday, completing the 90 minutes of a match for the first time since March 7.

Messi could have added to his tally on Saturday and had an excellent chance in the 27th minute on a left-footed shot from 12 yards, but it was smothered by Kansas City’s Tim Melia.

His free kick in the 41st minute from 25 yards barely missed wide right.

Miami’s win, which took the team to 15 points from nine MLS games, was marred by an apparent hamstring injury that forced Jordi Alba off in the second half.

“In terms of Jordi, I still haven’t spoken with the medical department,” Martino said. “Apparently there is discomfort in the posterior but I don’t want to rush in what I say because I haven’t spoken with the medical staff.”

Information from ESPN’s Lizzy Becherano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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