Lionel Messi scores twice, leads Inter Miami past Atlanta United

Lionel Messi of Inter Miami celebrates his first goal against Atlanta United on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo by Larry Marano/UPI
1 of 5 | Lionel Messi of Inter Miami celebrates his first goal against Atlanta United on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo by Larry Marano/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi scored two first-half goals and logged an assist, leading Inter Miami past Atlanta United in his second game for the MLS team in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Messi opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the 4-0 triumph Tuesday at DRV PNK Stadium. Fellow forward Robert Taylor also totaled two goals and an assist for the Herons.


Inter Miami, which was winless for six-consecutive matches before Messi's debut Friday, secured a spot in the Leagues Cup knockout round with the shutout.

The tournament, which includes MLS and Mexican Liga MX teams, does not count toward league standings.

Center midfielder Sergio Busquets sparked the first goal with a beautiful long pass from behind midfield. The feed sailed over a crowd of players and dropped down about 15 yards in front of the box.

Messi tapped the ball down and dribbled into the box. He then ripped a pass off the right post. Messi followed up the shot and smashed a second attempt into the net.

He scored for a second time in the 22nd minute. Messi knifed through the defense to set up that goal. He then fired a pass into the box for Taylor.


Taylor slid to the ground to send a pass from left to right, in front of the face of the goal. That pass slid through defenders and found Messi as he ran toward the back post. Messi finished the play with a powerful shot past Atlanta United goalie Brad Guzan.

Taylor scored Inter Miami's third goal in the 44th minute.

Left wing Benjamin Cremaschi assisted that goal. Messi toyed with the defense on the right side of the box at the start of that sequence. He then slid a pass to Cremaschi, who flipped the ball in the air and tapped a bouncing pass to Taylor.

The Inter Miami striker used his first touch to rip a half-volley into the upper right corner of the net.

Messi assisted Taylor for Inter Miami's final goal in the 53rd minute. Messi received a ball in transition while running about 40 yards from Inter Miami's goal to spark that score. He carried his dribble past midfield as Taylor sprinted up the left flank.

Messi then led Taylor with a ball into the box. Taylor took a soft touch and finished the play with a grounded shot past Guzan's left leg, off the right post and into the net.


Inter Miami will host FC Charlotte at 7:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 20 in Fort Lauderdale.

Lionel Messi trains with Inter Miami CF

Inter Miami's Lionel Messi takes part in a practice session at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 20, 2023. Messi's first game with the team will be on July 21. Photo by Marco Bello/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines