Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Lionel Messi’s unbeaten run with Inter Miami looked like it was on the verge of coming to an end on Wednesday, but some more late-game magic helped them overcome a two-goal deficit and earn a win over FC Cincinnati in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Both teams played to a 3-3 tie before Inter Miami won 5-4 on penalty kicks.
Messi was completely shut down by FC Cincinnati early, failing to register a shot in the entire game. However, he found other ways to impact the game, recording an assist on a free kick that was put in by Leonardo Campana in the 68th minute and another dazzling pass to Campano in stoppage time to send the game into extra time.
In the 93rd minute, Josef Martinez put in what seemed like it could be the game-winner off an assist by Benjamin Cremaschi. FC Cincinnati tied things up with a goal by Yuya Kubo in the 114th minute.
Messi had a free kick that was saved in the 119th minute, and things were sent to penalty kicks. He went first for Inter Miami and easily put in his PK. Both teams converted their first four attempts before Drake Callender saved FC Cincinnati’s fifth attempt. Cremaschi broke the stalemate and pushed Inter Miami over the top.
Fans online were hoping until the final whistle for some Messi magic, and their wish was granted with his stellar plays that led to the Inter Miami victory:
🅰️ MESSI ASSIST ‼️<br><br>Wow! Just as all hope looked to be lost, Messi floats another inch perfect ball onto the head of Campana! 2-2 in the 98th minute!<br><br>👉 3rd assist for Inter Miami<br>👉 10th assist of 2023<br>👉 306th all time club assist<br>👉 359th senior career assist <a href=”https://t.co/6r4QHtkEYU”>pic.twitter.com/6r4QHtkEYU</a>
Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves
7th minute of stoppage time, down 2-1, and Lionel Messi delivers a laser of an assist to Campana to tie things up in Cincinnati, his 2nd assist tonight.<br><br>Just WOW. <a href=” <br><br>Inter Miami and FC Cincinnati are heading to 30 minutes of overtime, live on Golazo Network. <a href=”https://t.co/zajKn6Vl62″>https://t.co/zajKn6Vl62</a>
Messi and Inter Miami will face the winner of Wednesday night’s matchup between Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake in the Open Cup Final on Sept. 27. They will be back in MLS action on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.