Tata Martino admits Lionel Messi ‘genius’ saved Inter Miami in LA Galaxy draw

Lionel Messi stepped up with a stoppage-time strike to steal a point for Inter Miami in their Sunday night clash with LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, bailing out the Herons at the last minute.

Messi and Jordi Alba connected for the equalizing strike with a move reminiscent of their Barcelona days at Camp Nou; Messi spraying the ball out wide to Alba, with the former Spain international then feeding the Argentine with a clever cut-back to smash home his first goal of the new season.

The Herons looked much better against the Galaxy compared to their opening fixture triumph against Real Salt Lake in midweek, but LA were on another level for most of the contest. However, the five-time MLS Cup winners failed to put away their chances and Messi made them pay to take a point back to south Florida.

Miami boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino admitted the Herons were outclassed in the first 45. But he applauded his team’s resilience and determination to take a point from a difficult encounter against a Galaxy side that look completely different from the team that finished in 13th place in the Western Conference in 2023, thanks in part to the electric debuts of Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec.

Lionel Messi

Messi earned Miami a point against LA Galaxy / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

“It’s true that they dominated the first half, especially with the period in which Riqui Puig had the most amount of time with the ball and made the team play very well,” Martino said after the draw. “They recently got their last two DPs and because of that, the team looks completely different.”

Martino also complimented the Galaxy’s starting striker, Dejan Joveljic, who scored the opening goal of the game with one of the easiest finishes he’ll ever get in his career thanks to his sound positioning. The former Atlanta United head coach also praised Messi for creating something out of nothing in the dying moments of the game.

“Because they have a great No. 9 and also two dangerous wingers, and also they’re very solid defensively. But then we had the personality to continue searching, and we reached the tie, well, you could say with the genius of Leo [Messi],” Martino added.

The Herons and Messi will look to put a complete game together when they return to action this Saturday to take on in-state rivals Orlando City at Chase Stadium.


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