Lionel Messi scores equalizer: Inter Miami draw with Galaxy on Messi stoppage-time goal

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Sunday's trip to Los Angeles quickly became a reality check for Inter Miami as the Herons drew 1-1 to the Galaxy behind a 92nd-minute goal from none other than Lionel Messi. Jordi Alba assisted Messi after Marco Delgado was dismissed for a phantom foul on Sergio Busquets in the second half.

That leveled the match after a 75th-minute goal from Dejan Joveljic that had the Galaxy ahead. It was a match defined by goalkeepers with John McCarthy and Drake Callender making save after save, but it was the rebound that Callender allowed from Riqui Puig's shot that led to the goal which Delgado assisted. Callender also saved a penalty.

The Galaxy had every chance to win the game as their 4.05 xG will show, but when a team faces Miami they pay more for their missed chances.

Diego Gomez left the match with an injury that will be a concern for Tata Martino as he was replaced by Lawson Sunderland. While Miami left with a point, there are questions about whether their success is sustainable although Federico Redondo will join soon to boost the midfield. 

Things won't get any easier for Miami hosting rivals Orlando City on March 2 before kicking off Concacaf Champions Cup play entering the round of 16 on Mar 17. Facing Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy, Miami have yet to play a team that can make them pay for their mistakes, but that will change sooner than later.

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Even the Galaxy if the match was played two weeks from now, would've likely emerged with a victory. Paintsil was great but needs to pass a bit more, something that will change as he logs more minutes for the team. Gabriel Pec also had to start the match from the bench as Puig is getting surrounded by a supporting cast that can push the Galaxy back to being a playoff team. Similarly to their first match against Real Salt Lake, Miami were let off the hook.

It helps to have four points early as every point matters, but it's clear that against attacks with pace that Busquets needs help. If Miami are to have another season during which they win a trophy, Martino needs to support his aging midfielder while also not stunting the attack.

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Gotta finish your chances around Messi

The Galaxy did almost everything right except when it came to putting the ball into the back of the net. Joseph Paintsil was dangerous but shot too much allowing Miami with a chance to claw their way back into things and that's just what they did as Jordi Alba and Messi combined for an equalizer during stoppage time.

February 26, 2024, 4:24 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 11:24 pm EST
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There's Messi!

After the Galaxy went down to 10 it was inevitable that Miami would find an opening goal as Jordi Alba played a perfect ball across the middle. It doesn't erase the rest of the match but Miami will go for a winner now.

February 26, 2024, 4:03 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 11:03 pm EST
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The Galaxy are down to 10 

Delgado has been sent off with his second yellow but it didn't seem like he actually made contact with Busquets. This is going to be an epic finish. 

February 26, 2024, 3:59 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:59 pm EST
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Diego Gomez goes down

This isn't something that the Herons can afford as the Paraguayan has been an important part of their midfield but it looks like Gomez will exit with 10 minutes remaining. Sunderland will be the likely replacement. 

February 26, 2024, 3:51 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:51 pm EST
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The goal was coming and after a rebound from Drake Callender's save Delgado played the ball to a simple area and the Galaxy pick up a simple lead.

February 26, 2024, 3:48 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:48 pm EST
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A debut for Gabriel Pec

Entering for Diego Fagundez, Pec will go on the left wing as the Galaxy searches for a winner in the match. Things have opened up but with 2.89 xG created, the Galaxy still can't score.

February 26, 2024, 3:44 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:44 pm EST
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McCarthy comes up big!

Messi's free kick deflects to Diego Gomez but McCarthy is there to make sure that it only ends in a corner kick.

February 26, 2024, 3:41 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:41 pm EST
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Suarez's night is over

He goes off with Robert Taylor as Ruiz and Campana enter to give Miami a different look. This strengthens Miami's midfield while also providing Miami with someone who can get in behind the defense. 

February 26, 2024, 3:39 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:39 pm EST
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VAR incoming

Gressel pushes Jovelijic in the box but there won't be a penalty. Still no goals on Sunday with 30 minutes remaining in the final game of the night.

February 26, 2024, 3:35 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:35 pm EST
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Fagundez denied

Callender has had an excellent game so far keeping the Galaxy out of the net 

February 26, 2024, 3:28 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:28 pm EST
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Chances for Miami

It has been better to start the second half but McCarthy has been ready in net. Gomez had the best chance on goal but we're still awaiting for our first goal of this MLS Sunday.

February 26, 2024, 3:19 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:19 pm EST
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What all went wrong

Miami are second to every ball in the first half and Busquets is running the risk of being sent off as no one can keep up with Paintsil on the pitch. Something needs to change in the second half as Robert Taylor and Julian Gressel feels redundant. Diego Gomez needs to come deep to offer support and Leonardo Campana entering wouldn't hurt but an early Galaxy goal could blow this game open.

February 26, 2024, 3:12 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 10:12 pm EST
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Suarez couldn't settle a ball in the Galaxy box but the chance was pulled back due to being offside. Even though that happened, it is still quite a poor first touch from Suarez.

February 26, 2024, 2:57 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:57 pm EST
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Frustration is showing 

There's a coming together between Suarez and the Galaxy following a foul but it has been disjointed for the Herons with only Messi registering a shot in the 36th minute of play. This wasn't the expectation coming out of the gate.

February 26, 2024, 2:47 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:47 pm EST
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Puig forces a phenomenal save

Cerrillo creates a great chance but Paintsil's header following Callender's save on Puig wasn't put on frame. Messi went the other way to force a save out of McCarthy as this game has been played on skates.

February 26, 2024, 2:41 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:41 pm EST
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Busquets sees yellow

The Herons can't keep up with Paintsil who has drawn a penalty and a free kick from a dangerous area. Yoshida couldn't put it on target but plenty of worry for Miami in the first 20 mintues.

February 26, 2024, 2:33 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:33 pm EST
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SAVED by Callender

It wasn't a great penalty take from Puig but Callender was there to stop the Galaxy from scoring. It was a foul from Busquets on Paintsil that led to the chance but the former Barcelona man was bailed out.

February 26, 2024, 2:25 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:25 pm EST
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LA Galaxy 1, Inter Miami 1 (FT)

February 26, 2024, 2:23 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:23 pm EST
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Paintsil is teaching the pitch

Miami's lack of pace is showing early as the Galaxy can get out and run but they're unable to put their shots on target in the early going. It takes a specific type of attack to defeat the Herons and the Galaxy have signs of having that attack

February 26, 2024, 2:22 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:22 pm EST
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A chippy start to the match

The Galaxy had the ball in the back of the net and it won't count but then Inter Miami responded by fouling Paintsil. It is a fast start to play.

February 26, 2024, 2:13 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:13 pm EST
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Here we go!

Five minutes until kickoff as Sunday's slate will hopefully see goals before the end of the night.

February 26, 2024, 2:07 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 9:07 pm EST
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With Miami going on the road and playing two matches in a week, the Galaxy will take advantage of tired legs to kick off their season with a victory in an end-to-end match. Pick: LA Galaxy 3, Inter Miami 2

February 26, 2024, 1:50 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:50 pm EST
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A Uruguayan reunion

While Luis Suarez will lead the line for Inter Miami, the will have quite a familiar face across the pitch defending for the Galaxy. Martin Caceres starts alongside Maya Yoshida for the Galaxy after making 116 senior appearances for Uruguay. 

February 26, 2024, 1:37 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:37 pm EST
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Inter Miami storylines

Messi and Luis Suarez kicked off the season assisting Robert Taylor and Diego Gomez at Chase Stadium but Julian Gressel didn't look great in midfield making his first appearance for the Herons. Allowing only two shots on target was a good performance from the defense but Los Angeles have players who can take shots from outside the box with better accuracy than what Real Salt Lake did. Tata Martino will have decisions to make about his defense.  

February 26, 2024, 1:30 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:30 pm EST
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A new era in Los Angeles as Paintsil starts

After completing his move from Genk only four days ago, Paintsil goes right into the attack.

Starters: McCartthy, Yamane, Yoshida, Caceres, Aude, Delgado, Cerrillo, Puig, Fagundez, Paintsil, Joveljic

Reserves: Micovic, Cuevas, Nelson, Zavaleta, Aguirre, Brugman, Perez, Berry, Pec

February 26, 2024, 1:16 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:16 pm EST
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LA Galaxy storylines

Pushing hard to make sure that Paintsil was eligible for the match, Greg Vanney and the Galaxy will be able to stretch the pitch to make things happen against the Miami defense. The Herons conceded 54 goals last season but the Galaxy defense was even more susceptible conceding 67 goals during the season so this could be an open match with quite a few goals in it.  

February 26, 2024, 1:15 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:15 pm EST
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No changes for Inter Miami

It's the same XI that defeated Real Salt Lake. Can Julian Gressel put in a better defensive performance?

Starters: Callender, Alba, Kryvtsov, Aviles, Yedlin, Gomez, Busquets, Gressel, Taylor, Suarez, Messi

Reserves: Dos Santos, Allen, Sailor, Freire, Sunderland, Ruiz, Mota, Campana, Borgelin

February 26, 2024, 1:04 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 8:04 pm EST
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How to watch and odds

  • Date: Sunday, Feb. 25 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: Dignity Health Sports Park -- Carson, Calif.
  • TV: None  | Live stream: MLS Season Pass
  • Odds: LA Galaxy +165; Draw +270; Inter Miami +140
February 26, 2024, 12:35 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 7:35 pm EST
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Hello and welcome

After a thrilling Saturday of action, there hasn't been a goal score in Sunday's slate yet but that should end with Inter Miami heading to face the LA Galaxy. Playing their second game of the season, the Herons will enter quite an environment as the new look Galaxy will kick off their season by welcoming Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Miami into their stadium. Led by their own former Barcelona midfielder in Riqui Puig, the Galaxy will look to create some chaos Sunday night.

February 26, 2024, 12:31 AM
Feb. 25, 2024, 7:31 pm EST