Lionel Messi scored twice and Josef Martinez added another one to help Inter Miami beat Orlando City 3-1 and advance to the Leagues Cup Round of 16.

Inter Miami maintained the same starting lineup as its 4-0 triumph over Atlanta United in the previous Leagues Cup group stage match. However, there were notable changes on the bench for the Round of 32 fixture.

Two recent signings, the legendary Spanish left-back Jordi Alba and promising Paraguayan midfielder Diego Gomez, made their first appearance in the matchday squad. The club’s fans were excited to see these new additions available as substitutes for the crucial knockout game.

Lionel Messi adds brace for Inter Miami against Orlando City

In the thrilling contest at DRV PNK Stadium, Lionel Messi scored two goals, leading his team to a 3-1 victory. It secured a spot in the last 16 of the Leagues Cup. However, the match was far from calm, and tempers ran high during the heated derby.

The Argentine found himself in the referee’s book after a clumsy challenge in the 20th minute. To make matters more interesting, he narrowly avoided a second yellow card and potential red when he shoulder-charged Cesar Araujo in first-half stoppage time.

Orlando City coach not thrilled with ‘circus’ outing

The game’s intensity and emotions were evident as both teams fiercely fought for the win. Orlando City manager Oscar Pareja was not pleased with the performance of the officials or the apparent favoritism shown to the legend.

“The attention that we’re getting in here, with all that is happening, it becomes a circus. Today was a circus. There was a second yellow on Messi [that wasn’t given]. I don’t care if he’s Messi.

“The penalty kick [decision] is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know if the VAR came today. So if the VAR came today and we have referees there, then we have to be honest and go and see it, because the game deserves it”, the Colombian said after the heated clash.

PHOTO: IMAGO & Icon Sportswire