In a thrilling Leagues Cup final, Inter Miami triumphed over Nashville SC in a dramatic penalty shootout, with Lionel Messi stealing the show. The Argentine superstar not only scored a spectacular goal but also kept his composure to convert the winning penalty. Let’s dive into the highlights of this epic match.
Lionel Messi, already a sensation at Inter Miami, continued his outstanding form in the Leagues Cup competition. In the 23rd minute, he etched his name in history. Receiving a precise pass from Robert Taylor, Messi showcased his dribbling prowess by eluding Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman and curling a sublime shot from just outside the penalty box into the top left corner. Even the diving goalkeeper, Elliot Panicco, had no chance at stopping this masterpiece.
Nashville, though trailing, displayed remarkable resilience. In the 56th minute, Fafa Picault’s header, following a corner kick, ricocheted off Miami’s Benjamin Cremaschi and into the net, catching goalkeeper Drake Callender off guard. The match was now level at 1-1.
As the game progressed, both teams had their chances, but the score remained tied. Messi, aiming for a repeat of his earlier magic, struck the post in the 71st minute, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
The match, living up to its final status, had its fair share of drama. Miami’s Leonardo Campana had a golden opportunity to seal victory in the dying moments of regulation but saw his sliding shot hit the post. Messi couldn’t hide his disappointment as the ball rolled out of play.
However, it was Messi who once again stole the spotlight in the penalty shootout. He calmly slotted the first penalty into the net. It was then up to goalkeeper Drake Callender to step up. Not only did he convert a crucial penalty, but he also made a title-clinching save.
Callender, reflecting on the historic win, expressed his emotions, saying, “It’s a huge honor to play a role in our first win in a final. It’s pretty surreal. Very emotional. This team works so hard day-in, day-out to be able to perform like this on a night like this. And to have it come down to the very end, it was amazing to see the grit, just the belief of what we’re capable of. It’s something special, and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”
He also emphasized the importance of staying focused and calm in the high-pressure atmosphere of the final. “I just had to stay focused, breathe through it, stay as calm as possible,” he said. “I mean, this atmosphere here tonight is electric. So I embraced the moment and I just believed in the work that I put in and the repetitions I put in leading up to that moment, and it just ended up going our way.”
The victory sparked Messi mania in Music City. Nashville SC had earned their place in the final by defeating Monterrey from the Mexican league, and this had the city buzzing with excitement. Ticket prices soared, but that didn’t deter fans from filling Geodis Park to its capacity of 30,109. Notably, Nashville native Reese Witherspoon brought out the game ball, and NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo showcased his skills with a few shots on goal, emphasizing the star-studded atmosphere surrounding the event.
In an electrifying Leagues Cup final, Inter Miami emerged victorious, thanks to the brilliance of Lionel Messi and the composure of goalkeeper Drake Callender. This match will be remembered for its thrilling moments and the outpouring of emotions on and off the field. As Messi continues to light up the American soccer scene, fans can only expect more excitement in the future.
- Q: How many goals has Messi scored for Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup? A: Messi has scored 10 goals in seven games for Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup.
- Q: Who scored Nashville’s goal in the final Leagues Cup? A: Fafa Picault scored Nashville’s goal in the 56th minute.
- Q: How did the crowd react to Messi before he scored the goal? A: The crowd showered Messi with boos each time he touched the ball before he scored the goal.
- Q: Who converted the title-clinching penalty for Inter Miami? A: Goalkeeper Drake Callender converted the title-clinching penalty for Inter Miami.
- Q: How many fans attended the Leagues Cup final? A: The match had a capacity crowd of 30,109 at Geodis Park.