Inter Miami advances to the Leagues Cup final with another goal from Lionel Messi.

Inter Miami advances to the Leagues Cup final with another goal from Lionel Messi.
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Inter Miami defeated the Philadelphia Union 4-1 in the second leg of the Leagues Cup semifinal on Tuesday in Chester, Pa., and Lionel Messi scored his ninth goal for his new team.

Since his debut in Miami last month, all nine of Messi’s goals have come in the Leagues Cup, a competition including all 47 teams from MLS and Liga MX.

On Saturday night, he’ll play in the championship game against Nashville SC, who advanced with a 2-0 victory against CF Monterrey on Tuesday. Nashville will host the championship game.

All of the Herons’ goals in the victory came before halftime, with Josef Martinez getting things started with his third of the competition and Messi’s former FC Barcelona colleague Jordi Alba scoring his first.

David Ruiz’s late insurance goal helped Miami go to 6-0 in the tournament, with a 21-7 goal differential.

The Philadelphia Union, despite a late goal from Alejandro Bedoya, will be going home from yet another knockout tournament without a championship.

The Union were eliminated from the 2021 MLS Eastern Conference finals and the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals on penalties. Also, since 2014, they’ve lost three consecutive U.S. Open Cup finals.

The consensus was that this would be Messi’s most difficult test in the States so far, but after Martinez’s goal in the third minute, Miami dominated.

The Herons went for broke up the middle, with defensive back Sergii Kryvtsov playing a pass over the top for the right winger to rush onto.

Martinez got his foot on it, made room for himself on the right side of the box, and slammed a low, powerful shot between goalie Andre Blake and the far post.

In the 20th minute, Messi doubled the lead with another spectacular long-range effort. He has scored twice before, both times on free kicks.

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