Lionel Messi has once again found the back of the net in the Leagues Cup quarter final fixture against Charlotte FC as his side mauled ‘The Crown’ by 4-0, thus advancing to the semifinals of the tournament, setting up a date against Philadelphia in the final four. Along with Messi, there were several other scorers which included Messi’s best mate Josef Martinez, and Finnish forward Robert Taylor.
Messi leads Miami to semifinals of Leagues Cup
Lionel Messi, who has got his mojo back on the American soil, has once again, managed to get on the score sheet on the 82nd minute. But, it was the David Beckham owned side which ran riot at the DRV Pink Stadium, where they defeated their fellow Eastern Conference side Charlotte FC, by 4-0, thus booking a spot in the semifinals of the coveted Leagues Cup.
In one of the crunch matches of the competition, both teams had fielded their strongest eleven, thus getting in to a neck-to-neck competition. For Miami, former Barcelona boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, had started all his former Barcelona apprentices. as the defensive set-up comprised regular starters like Jordi Alba, De Andre Yedlin, Kamal Mille and Kryvtsov. In the midfield it was Messi’s old link-up partner Sergio Busquets, flanked by youngster Benjamin Cremaschi and Arroyo, with the Josef Martinez being flanked by his mate Lionel Messi and Finnish partner Robert Taylor.
For Charlotte, they have started with their stereotypical 4-1-4-1 formation, with a lone striker in the form of Swiderski, who was accompanied at the back with a four-throng midfield set-up consisting Bronico, Jozwiak, Arfield and Bender.
Josef Martinez opens the scoring
Josef Martinez, the Venezuelan striker seemed to have found a new strike partner in Lionel Messi, as the camaraderie between the two Latin American stars have been the talk of the town since the day Messi joined. Their bubbling bromance, which has seemed to light up the suburbs of Miami, is evident in each game, as both of them go hand-in-hand in scoring in each game, with each one’s assist. Today, it was time for Josef to open the scoring and lead the side in terms of mental advantage.
It was on the 12th minute, when Charlotte’s Harrison Afful fouled Dixon Arroyo, after a rash challenge in the penalty area. Martinez stepped up to score from the spot, this giving Miami a well deserved lead within the first 15 minutes. Again, the bonhomie between the Argentine World Cup winner and his Venezuelan strike partner was evident as Messi let him take the penalty, thus giving the side a hefty lead.
Robert Taylor doubles the lead
After Martinez struck the penalty, it was time for one of his other strike partners to ensure that the lead is quite healthy. It was Finnish forward Robert Taylor, who was swooning Miami with his blazing runs on the left wing, who scored the second goal on the 32nd minute, thus providing the team with a two-goal cushion. He was assisted by American defender Yedlin, whose pass was instrumental in enhancing Miami’s lead before half-time, as the Finnish star blasted the Charlotte’s left corner with his right foot.
Miami went in to halftime with a comfortable two goal lead, leading in possession which leaned in favor of them by 62%, compared to 38% for Charlotte. After the second half commenced, both sides replaced some of their players, in order to gain some momentum in the game. Charlotte went more with its attacking front as they replaced Scott Arfield with Ghana attacker Agyemang, where Miami enhanced their attacking prowess by replacing Josef Martinez by Leonardo Campana, on the 60th minute.
When Charlotte was looking to restore their pride in the game, things turned worse for them as defender Adilson Malanda, in order to defend the ball, put it past against his own keeper, thus leading to an own-goal mishap, giving Miami a handsome 3-0 lead.
Messi nets his 8th goal in 5 games
People say, age might be an issue for players who are playing in their late 30s. But, generational rivals who have contested against each other on the elite, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are still weaving their magic in their respective games. Ronaldo, 38, has been the star of the match when he guided his side Al-Nassr to Arab Champions Cup final, and Messi, 36, on the American soil, has spun his magic web around the American suburbs. The Argentine World Cup winner has scored in consecutive 5th game of the season, thus, leading his tally to 8 goals in just a mere 5th game.
Today, on the 82nd minute, it was Leonardo Campana, who spearheaded Messi’s goal, as his swift assist past Charlotte defenders led Messi to score his landmark goal, eight minutes from full-time whistle. Messi blasted the shot on the high center of the goal, after which, he unraveled his latest celebration of ‘Spider-Man’. We can safely say that Lionel Messi has indeed spun his magic web across the suburbs of Miami, thus compelling people to quote the fact, “Aging like fine wine”.
Messi and Co. will face Philadelphia Union in the semifinals of the Leagues Cup, on 15th August aiming for a spot in the finals of the championship.