Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba Propel Inter Miami into Leagues Cup Final
As of Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Union has only lost one game at home since December 2021. The Union now has two. They were no match for Inter Miami, who stormed into Subaru Park and pummeled Philadelphia for a 4-1 victory despite being a team that dominates in its home stadium. Miami wins a berth in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and advances to the Leagues Cup final.
Inter Miami struck first in their matchup with the reigning Eastern Conference winners, added two more goals in the first half, and never looked back. Philadelphia played aggressively, committing 15 fouls to Miami’s four, but due to defensive blunders, several Inter-Miami players roamed freely to feed their stars.
Lionel Messi Keeps the Goals Coming as Inter Miami Charges into Leagues Cup Final
Lionel Messi Nets Ninth Goal for Inter Miami with Another Long-Range Shot; Jordi Alba Scores Maiden Goal with New Club. Stellar Goalkeeper Drake Callender Shines Once More. Inter Miami Holds Strong Against Philadelphia’s Second-Half Surge, Securing a 3-0 Victory. Starting Lineup Remains Unchanged, While Debutant Facundo Farias Awaits His Turn. Inter Miami’s Early Lead Trend Continues, Thanks to Messi and Busquets’ Impact.
Miami’s Fastest Goal in a Game
This instance marked Inter Miami’s quickest achievement yet. Seizing control of the ball in Miami’s defensive zone, center-back Sergii Kryvtsov faced no immediate Union pressure. This freedom allowed him ample time to meticulously launch a lengthy pass downfield, pinpointing a charging Josef Martinez. The subsequent right-footed shot mirrored the splendor of the pass itself, rocketing past Philadelphia’s diving goalkeeper within the match’s third minute.
Shortly thereafter, Callender confronted his inaugural trial of the game—a formidable one—effectively thwarting midfielder Dániel Gazdag’s breakaway attempt. A mere twelve minutes elapsed before Messi notched his ninth tournament goal. The sequence unfolded as Martinez gathered possession near midfield, elegantly delivering the ball to Messi amidst a challenge. Despite Martinez enduring a forceful tackle from former Miami defender Damion Lowe, the referee allowed play to continue with Inter Miami in possession. Messi embarked on a series of dribbles before unleashing a low-driven strike from what could practically be considered the parking lot, nestling the ball into the bottom right corner. Lowe received a yellow card in the aftermath of the challenge before the game resumed.
More Goals Rained on Philadelphia
Inter Miami augmented their lead with another goal before the halftime whistle, this time masterminded by Alba. Forward Robert Taylor seized control of the ball at midfield, encountering minimal pressure from the Philadelphia contingent. Demonstrating one of his trademark runs along the left sideline, Alba received a precisely weighted pass from Taylor, setting up a well-executed partial breakaway. Alba exercised precision in selecting his target, driving the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
Philadelphia, sensing the need for change, initiated two halftime substitutions that considerably challenged Inter Miami’s dominance. The second half unfolded with Inter Miami assuming a more defensive stance, spending a significant amount of time on the back foot, a contrast from their assertive first-half performance.
The turning point arrived 10 minutes into the second half when the Union unleashed a lengthy pass, prompting Callender to advance from his goal line. Forward Chris Donovan found himself presented with an open net, but his subsequent shot sailed high above the crossbar. Callender then demonstrated his prowess with a crucial diving save, denying a potent Philadelphia header and preserving the 3-0 scoreline.
The Conclusive Strike
Coach Toto Martino reacted by introducing two substitutions of his own, strategically replacing Martinez with forward Leonardo Campana and Taylor with midfielder Diego Gomez. However, the momentum continued to favor Philadelphia, with the home side persistently carving out scoring opportunities. The breakthrough came in the 73rd minute through a corner kick. While the initial delivery was met with a crowded area, the rebound fortuitously landed at the feet of Philadelphia midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. His shot, threading the needle between right-back DeAndre Yedlin’s legs, eluded Callender’s grasp, finding the net over his left shoulder.
In response, the insertion of Inter Miami midfielder David Ruiz following the goal proved to be a shrewd decision. In the 83rd minute, Ruiz solidified the victory with a precision strike from an acute angle, courtesy of a well-placed feed from Yedlin.
Looking ahead, Inter Miami’s next destination is GEODIS Park on Saturday, where they are set to clash with Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final. The highly anticipated match is scheduled for a 9 p.m. kickoff.