Messi Grabs Late Leveller For Miami At Galaxy

The Galaxy dominated for long stretches of the game and had taken the lead in the 75th minute through Serbian striker Dejan Joveljic.

Inter Miami’s Argentine forward #10 Lionel Messi celebrates with teammate DeAndre Yedlin after they tied during the MLS football match between LA Galaxy and Inter Miami FC at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 25, 2024, in Carson, California. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)


Lionel Messi scored a last-gasp stoppage time equalizer as Inter Miami escaped with a 1-1 draw at the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer on Sunday.

The Galaxy dominated for long stretches of the game and had taken the lead in the 75th minute through Serbian striker Dejan Joveljic.

But the home side ended the game with ten men after midfielder Mark Delgado was sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

Jordi Alba then combined with Messi down the left, the Spaniard delivering a killer pull-back into the path of Messi who, at full stretch, found the target with the outside of his left foot.

It was a rare moment of impact from Messi who had been mostly ineffective in the game where Miami, with seven starters over the age of 30, struggled with Galaxy’s tempo.

Miami had all four of their former Barcelona stars in their starting line-up with Alba, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez alongside Messi.

But it was the Galaxy’s former Barca player, 24-year-old Spaniard Riqui Puig, who was the dominant player on the field, especially in the first half when the California side had a series of chances.

Confident on the ball and incisive in his passing, Puig was dictating play but he should have given the home side the lead in the 13th minute from the penalty spot.

The lively Joseph Paintsil, a recent signing from Genk in Belgium, had been pulled down in the box by Busquets but Puig’s low free-kick was well-saved by Drake Callender.

The Miami keeper then produced fine saves to keep out efforts from Paintsil and Puig and apart from a deflected Messi effort which was parried by Galaxy keeper John McCarthy, Miami created little.

Busquets and Suarez looked particularly off the pace and with their contributions limited, Messi received little space or service.

Red card drama 

It was better after the break as Miami pushed into a more offensive shape but McCarthy did well to keep out two good efforts from Gomez and deal with routine shot from distance from Messi.

The Galaxy finally got their reward when Paintsil burst at the creaking Miami back-line, Puig’s shot was parried by Callender and Delgado squared to Joveljic who tapped home.

After Delgado’s dismissal, Alba found Messi whose first time shot flashed just wide, an effort which proved to be a dress rehearsal for the equaliser.

“We were outplayed in the first half, we could have gone into the dressing room a goal down,” said Inter head coach Gerardo Martino.

“They scored on a counter-attack but after that we showed character,” he added.

Miami have four points after winning Wednesday’s season opener against Real Salt Lake 2-0.

Earlier, former Canada national team coach John Herdman made a positive start to his new role as head coach of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC with a well-deserved 0-0 draw at FC Cincinnati.

Toronto finished last in the 29-team MLS last season, with just four wins all year, while Cincinnati won the Supporters Shield for the team with the best regular season record.

But there was little to choose between Herdman’s revamped Toronto team and a Cincinnati side who have lost their centre-forward Brandon Vazquez, who was sold to Mexico’s Monterrey.

Irish defender Kevin Long, signed from Birmingham City, made a solid debut in the centre of defence while another debutant Honduran Deiby Flores gave a strong showing as the anchor of the midfield.

The woodwork denied New York Red Bulls a winning start for new German coach Sandro Schwarz as they were held to a goalless draw at Nashville.

The former Mainz and Hertha Berlin coach handed a debut to Swedish midfielder Emil Forsberg, brought in from sister club RB Leipzig and he went close to opening the scoring, with a long range effort that crashed out off the bar.

Moments earlier Frankie Amaya struck the woodwork with a fine shot from outside the box but Red Bulls had goalkeeper Carlos Coronel to thank for their point after he denied Tyler Boyd in the final moments.