Lionel Messi stars with two goals and an assist in his first start

It was a night of firsts in Fort Lauderdale.Lionel Messi’s first start for Inter Miami. His first brace, assist, and a new experience for Atlanta United. 

The seventh-placed Eastern Conference MLS team were humiliated by last-placed Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup game — and the first to experience Argentine-driven devastation awaiting soccer clubs across the nation. 

While Diddy, DJ Khaled, Camila Cabello and the Beckhams created a star-studded feel in the stands, the true gem dazzled in pastel pink — a shirt already desired across the globe. 

Messi scored the first two goals of the game which was his in name and nature.The rejuvenated 36-year-old left just eight minutes of game time between his outrageous game-winning free kick vs. Cruz Azul and the opener against Atlanta. 

By the 22nd minute it was time to add another; bringing his classic give-and-go move to South Florida. 

The Argentine scored a spectacular brace before Robert Taylor added a third before halftime

DJ Khaled and Diddy were on-hand to watch Lionel Messi’s second game for Inter Miami

Messi opened the scoring in the eighth minute before effortlessly putting home the rebound

DRFV PNK Stadium was once again full to watch Messi perform football magic on Tuesday

A pitch invader wearing an Inter Miami jersey attempted to get to Messi after he was subbed

Leading the attack from midfield, Messi passed to Robert Taylor on his left before receiving the ball back from a slide-rule pull-back, adding the gentlest of touches to find the back of the net. 

Taylor, who at one point was on the books at League One team, Lincoln City, feasted off the presence of Messi turning from provider to profiteer. 

A stunning volley just before half gave Miami a three-goal buffer.He, nor his attacking partner, were done there. 

Messi’s first assist was a product of his sheer magnetism; drawing three defenders to him, allowing Taylor to sprint from his own half unmarked before the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner laid it off for Taylor to double his tally.

With the embarrassment of Atlanta complete, Messi left the road team with some dignity, exiting the field on 78 minutes to a standing ovation and cries of his name. 

A pitch invader tried to get to the Argentine before he took his seat on the substitutes bench, but just like those in red-and-black he could not get near the diminutive dynamo. 

Christopher McVey created the first – and only – blemish on the night for Miami, giving away a penalty six minutes later. 

Atlanta superstar Thiago Almada stepped up and looked to put United on the board.Didn’t he know there was only room for one Argentine in the spotlight?  

Sergio Busquets celebrated with his former Barcelona teammate after Inter Miami’s fourth

Robert Taylor scored a double of his own, but first assisted Messi before he returned the favor

Thiago Almada (CR) swapped jerseys with his World Cup-winning teammate following the loss

It turns out, he did.The World Cup winner delivered a paltry attempt at Drake Callender’s goal which was duly saved. 

Though, it wasn’t all without reward for Almada, who left DRV PNK Stadium with the prized pink No. 10 jersey. 

Messi’s work was not over once he reached the plush his substitute seat, taking a shirt with his name and number, and adding a signature as the inconsequential final minutes played out. 

Obligations continued after the final whistle as he stopped for a photo with Khaled before etching his name onto paraphernalia of those crowded around the tunnel.

Messi’s last moments inside the Fort Lauderdale stadium brought the lucky fans indescribable joy — his next will likely bring more misery for his opposing contemporaries.

Charlotte FC, you’ve been warned. 


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