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Lionel Messi was once again lauded as the “best in the world” by his teammates after his scintillating start to life at Inter Miami continued as the club picked up their first piece of silverware after a Leagues Cup victory against Nashville.
The Argentine opened the scoring with a superb left-footed curling effort from outside the box before Miami were pegged back and sent to penalties after a second-half strike from Fafa Picault.
After a drawn-out shootout, it was Miami who would eventually emerge victorious when Drake Callender saved his opposite number’s spot kick to secure a 10-9 victory.
“It’s a huge honour to play a role in our first win in a final,” Callender said speaking after the match. “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.”
The victory also serves as another reminder of the remarkable transformation in the team’s fortunes since Messi’s arrival. Rock bottom when he joined, the 36-year-old has scored 10 goals in just seven games, leading his team on an unbeaten run which saw them capture the club’s first silverware.
Mess’s former Barcelona teammates – Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets – have reunited with the Argentine in Miami, with the latter lauding him for his influence on the side.
“We have infected the team with our spirit, our work, our character and experience,” the Spaniard said after the game. “We are making a solid team and then we have Leo [Messi], who makes a difference because he’s the best in the world.
“I am very happy to win our first title in just one month, the club’s first. The team is growing by leaps and bounds and we are very happy.”
David Beckham and Lionel Messi embrace after victory
The result also serves as vindication for co-owner David Beckham who spent a great deal of time convincing Messi to make the move and join his team in MLS.
“A lot can happen in five weeks,” Beckham joked after the victory. “A lot has changed for us, we will enjoy tonight and then we have to look to the future and continue to build.
“We have some of the best players, if not the best player, in the world out there for us wearing pink. We have a bunch of academy players out there too and that is incredibly important.
“It’s an emotional night for all of us. It has been a long journey for me. It has been a long journey, I always knew there would be bumps in the road along the way and there were too many, to be honest. Tonight is a night we are going to enjoy.
“People ask ‘is it a fix?’ and it is the biggest compliment you can give these players because it is like a movie. You watch them play and it is emotional. Everything about their play is beautiful.”
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