Lionel Messi, Miami trounce Atlanta United in Leagues Cup


Lionel Messi's presence felt all over Inter Miami's 4-0 win

Lionel Messi scores the first two goals for Inter Miami while also assisting on Miami's fourth goal.

The world waited 94 minutes last Friday for Lionel Messi to score his first goal for Inter Miami CF of MLS. In Tuesday's Leagues Cup match against Atlanta United FC, he scored twice in the first 22 minutes.

Making his first start for Miami, Messi took a pass from teammate Sergio Busquets, surged forward and sent a strike off the right post before tapping in his own rebound in the eighth minute.

Then, in the 22nd minute, Messi put Miami ahead 2-0 off a pass from Robert Taylor.

Messi's short time with Miami has been nothing short of spectacular, netting three goals in the two games in which he's appeared.

He came off the bench in the 54th minute in his debut last week and delivered a moment fans had hoped for when the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner and World Cup champion decided to take his talents to MLS. In the 94th minute against Mexico's Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup, Messi converted a game-winning free kick in front of a crowd estimated at 21,000.

Deandre Yedlin had placed the skipper's armband on Messi when he checked in on Friday, but Messi entered Tuesday's match wearing the armband just below his right shoulder.

Midfielder Gregore had been the club's captain before suffering a foot injury in March.

With Messi rightly commanding much of the attention from Atlanta's defenders, opportunities opened for other Miami players. Taylor scored in the 44th minute, then made it 4-0 in the 53rd after being set up by Messi.

The former Barcelona captain had entered holding hands with the son of hip-hop artist DJ Khaled.

A fan got onto the field as Messi was exiting and sprinted all the way toward Miami's bench where the Argentine stood before manager "Tata" Martino grabbed the attention of security. The fan was then escorted off the field.

The result puts Miami into the round of 32 of the Leagues Cup, where they will face either MLS sides Orlando or Houston or Liga MX club Santos Laguna on Aug. 2.