Once again, Lionel Messi led a charge for Inter Miami in its dramatic come-from-behind victory over FC Dallas on Sunday in the Leagues Cup. The round of 16 triumph featured another brace from the Argentine, who now has seven goals in just four appearances with the south Florida club.

However, this was certainly his and Miami’s toughest test in the Leagues Cup so far. Miami’s first away game in the competition featured a pair of two-goal leads for the hosts in FC Dallas. However, those only came after Messi opened the scoring.

In each of his previous two starts, Messi scored inside eight minutes for Inter Miami. He did that again with a well-worked goal with former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba. A goal nearly identical to one he scored against Real Madrid around five years ago, a perfectly placed shot from Messi beat diving FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes.

However, FC Dallas responded. Facundo Quignon provided an impressive equalizer of his own. A volley with his left foot on a cross from the left side beat an outstretched Drake Callender. Then, just before the halftime break, Bernard Kamungo made a brilliant turn around the Inter Miami defense to give the hosts the advantage after 45 minutes.

FC Dallas establishes bigger lead twice

Not long after the hour mark, Alan Velasco of FC Dallas added to the lead. The Argentine, who was playing slick all game, lobbed a free kick into the Inter Miami area. The cross went untouched and beyond Callender into the side of the goal, giving Dallas a two-goal lead.

Even though Benjamin Cremaschi pulled one back for Inter Miami, the game quickly developed into another two-goal lead for Dallas. An unfortunate break for Robert Taylor led to an own goal. Even though Taylor was desperately tracking back, his interception on an FC Dallas past rolled past Callender.

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Miami relies on Messi for comeback against FC Dallas

Messi made headlines in that first game against Cruz Azul with a free kick in the 90th minute to win the game. Fittingly, it was two free kicks against FC Dallas to send the game to a penalty shootout.

The first was a cross into the FC Dallas area. Even though there were few Miami players where the ball was, an inexplicable header from Marco Farfan went in. The ball went in with pace, and it truly looked like an attacking header. Messi and company did not care, as it provided a lifeline back into the contest.

Then, in the 85th minute, Messi stepped up on a free kick again. From the right-hand side, Messi whipped a ball up and over the FC Dallas wall. A perfectly placed free kick that few goalkeepers would get to left Paes helpless. The game was tied and destined for penalties.

Lionel Messi and Paul Arriola converted on their attempts to open the spot kicks. The same went for Sergio Busquets. However, USMNT midfielder Paxton Pomykal rifled his ball over the net, giving Miami the edge. Even though both Jesus Ferreira and Facundo Quignon converted their penalties for Dallas, each of the remaining three Inter Miami players scored on their attempts. Inter Miami won the penalty shootout 5-3 to advance to the last eight of the Leagues Cup.

The side’s next game is on Friday, Aug. 11. It will play the winner of Monday’s Houston-Charlotte clash. That game will be in Fort Lauderdale at DRV PNK Stadium.


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