How Lionel Messi and Inter Miami beat Charlotte FC 4-0 in Leagues Cup quarter-final

Messi scored his eighth goal in five matches for Miami as they easily swept aside Charlotte. They will face the Philadelphia Union in the semis on Tuesday.

Michael Dominski

How Lionel Messi and Inter Miami beat Charlotte FC 4-0 in Leagues Cup quarter-final

(Photo: Getty Images)

Can this turnaround continue for Inter Miami?

It’s easy to believe that Inter Miami may cruise to the Leagues Cup final, then play their way into an MLS play-off position. Lionel Messi has given Miami a boost of momentum and a confidence that they have never had. Messi had a bit of a quiet night, although he was very good, and still managed to score one goal.

That bodes well for Tata Martino’s side. Despite being highly dependent on Messi, Miami are learning to manage the game effectively. But there is a reality here: Inter Miami are still a team that’s rebuilding, fatigue will set in and they’ll now travel to Philadelphia for their toughest test since Messi’s arrival. A hiccup or two in 2023 is expected.

Mexico’s last hope

With Queretaro out, Liga MX’s final hope in the Leagues Cup is now Monterrey, who are down 1-0 to LAFC after 18 minutes at the Rose Bowl.

If Monterrey lose, can we start calling it the League Cup?

Inter Miami will face Philadelphia in semi-final

Up next for Inter Miami, the Messi roadshow heads to Chester, Pa. as the Philadelphia Union pull out a dramatic 2-1 win in extra time over Queretaro thanks to Chris Donovan’s second senior-level professional goal. What a moment for the 23-year-old!

Both semi-finals will take place on Tuesday.

Match stats

Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

  • Expected goals: 2.41 – 0.75
  • Shots: 9 – 9
  • Shots on goal: 7 – 2
  • Saves: 2 – 4
  • Possession: 62% – 38%
  • Total passes: 701 – 416
  • Offsides: 2 – 3
  • Corners: 3 – 3
  • Fouls: 6 – 13
  • Yellow cards: 1 – 2

Busquets: It’s ‘beautiful’ to play with Messi again

(Photo: Getty Images)

Sergio Busquets also spoke, through a translator, to Apple TV after Miami’s win: “We had a great start, an advantage of two goals. We relaxed a little bit once we had that advantage. The game became a little bit more back-and-forth but we came strong in the second half and extended that lead.”

On playing with Lionel Messi again: “We played with each other for a very long time together, but it’s beautiful to play together again and we understand each other very well on the field.”

Taylor lauds Busquets

(Photo: Getty Images)

Robert Taylor spoke to Apple TV after the match: “We just focused on keeping a clean sheet. I knew we’d score goals. I knew we’d create chances to score so it was important to keep a clean sheet.

“(Busquets) brings so much quality into the midfield and when we build up the game from the back, his quality and his vision is amazing. I’ve never seen anyone with so much calmness and, the way he’s relaxed on the ball under pressure, it’s amazing.”

Asked to give a shout-out to his dad who’s watching, presumably from Finland, with a smile Taylor says: “Go to sleep.”

Around the Leagues Cup

All four of the Leagues Cup quarter-finals are being played tonight:


  • Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC
  • Nashville SC 5-0 Minnesota United

Second half:

  • Philadelphia Union 1-1 Queretaro

11pm ET kick-off:

Video of Messi’s goal

Messi already climbing Miami’s all-time ranks

(Photo: Getty Images)

Inter Miami’s all-time leading goalscorers:

  1. Gonzalo Higuain: 29 goals (70 games)
  2. Leonardo Campana: 16 goals (51 games)
  3. Robert Taylor: 9 goals (65 games)
  4. Lionel Messi: 8 goals (5 games)
  5. Josef Martinez: 8 goals (29 games)

FT: Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

That’s it! Messi and Miami are through to the semi-finals!

Westwood booked

90+1′ Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

We’re into two minutes of stoppage time here.

Westwood is booked for cynically clearing out Busquets.

Miami’s attack leading the way

90′ Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

I don’t care what league you’re in or who’s on your team. Scoring 17 goals in five games — as Inter Miami have done in this tournament — is….pretty ridiculous.

Eight goals in five games for Messi

89′ Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

With that goal, Messi takes sole lead in the Leagues Cup golden boot race. Eight in five games now.

GOAL! Messi gets his goal!

86′ Inter Miami 4-0 Charlotte FC

It couldn’t be an Inter Miami match without a goal for Lionel Messi!

Charlotte’s defence are all over the place, allowing Campana to find Messi in space in the middle of the box. He can’t miss from there!

Miami have booked their place in the semi-finals!

Messi waves to the crowd, who show him their love in response.

Fourth change for Charlotte

83′ Inter Miami 3-0 Charlotte FC

Brandon Cambridge replaces Harrison Afful.

Charlotte have one sub left.

An own golazo

82′ Inter Miami 3-0 Charlotte FC

So many own goals in Leagues Cup play. Inside the stadium, the public address announcer is calling that latest one a “GOLAZO.”

GOAL! Miami get a third!

78′ Inter Miami 3-0 Charlotte FC

Just seconds after Agyemang failed to score at one end, Miami come right down the field and score at the other!

Messi leads an attack before playing the ball out wide. The cross comes back in to the centre of the Charlotte box, where a sliding Malanda inadvertently pokes it into his own net.

Charlotte waste great opportunity

77′ Inter Miami 2-0 Charlotte FC

Agyemang had to score! He finds space between Kryvtsov and Yedlin in the box and has a free header from point-blank range, but can’t put his effort on target.

That was Charlotte’s opportunity to get back in the game.

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