Messi scores as Inter Miami draw with Rapids


Lionel Messi sparks Inter Miami with second-half goal

Lionel Messi comes off the bench to score and help set up a goal for Inter Miami vs. Colorado Rapids.

Lionel Messi scored one goal and helped set up another in his return from injury as Inter Miami tied 2-2 with the visiting Colorado Rapids on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Leonardo Afonso netted the go-ahead goal for Miami (3-2-3, 12 points) and it looked like a come-from-behind win was in the offing, but the Rapids drew level on Cole Bassett's strike in the 88th minute.

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Messi came off the bench and played the entire second half for his first MLS action since March 2. He hadn't played since straining a hamstring March 13 in a CONCACAF Champions Cup match. Messi now has four goals in four regular-season appearances in 2024.

Rafael Navarro scored a penalty-kick goal to give Colorado (2-2-3, 9 points) the lead in the 45th minute.

Colorado keeper Zack Steffen did all he could against the Miami attack, making five saves. Drake Callendar saved two shots for Miami.

Inter Miami started buzzing once Messi entered the game. Franco Negri sent him a pass at the top of the box in the 57th minute, and Messi one-timed it with his left foot. It glanced off a Rapids defender's leg and went in off the inside of the left post.

Just three minutes later, Messi passed up ahead to David Ruiz, who crossed it to Afonso for a right-footed strike to make it 2-1. Afonso, a second-round draft pick last winter, was making his first career start.

Miami controlled the possession for most of the rest of the half. Messi had a free kick sail just over the crossbar in the 74th minute and had another shot parried away in the 78th.

But in the waning minutes of regulation time, Rapids substitute Calvin Harris got a counterattack going and Bassett beat Sergio Busquets to the ball on the centering pass. Bassett scored in the bottom-right corner.

A young girl ran onto the field in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to take a selfie with Messi before being escorted away by security.

Colorado earned a free kick in the sixth minute of stoppage time, but Djordje Mihailovic's attempt landed straight in Callendar's arms.