Lionel Messi had two assists and converted a penalty kick as Inter Miami rallied from a two-goal deficit and beat MLS-leading Cincinnati 5-4 in penalties in a US Open Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.
Cincinnati jumped to a 2-0 lead before Messi set up a pair of goals by Leonardo Campana, tying the game at two apiece. Miami moved ahead when Josef Martínez scored three minutes into the first extra period, but Cincinnati tied the game at three when Yuya Kubo scored in the 114th minute, forcing a penalty shootout.
Messi made Miami’s first attempt in the shootout, and both teams were perfect through four rounds. Herons goalkeeper Drake Callender saved Nick Hagglund’s kick in the fifth round, and Benjamin Cremaschi made his PK to send Miami to another tournament final.
Miami advanced to face the winner of Wednesday’s late semi-final between Houston and Salt Lake in the final on 27 September.
Messi was held scoreless for the first time since joining Inter Miami in late July. His first assist of the game was on a free kick in the 68th minute to cut Miami’s deficit to 2-1. He delivered a long cross into the box to set up Campana’s second goal on a header that sent the game to extra time.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner who led Argentina to the World Cup crown last year, had scored 10 goals in his first seven games with Miami, leading the team to the Leagues Cup title. He is set to make his Major League Soccer debut Saturday at the New York Red Bulls.
Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vazquez scored the first two goals for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead early in the first half on a nifty flick from Acosta, its Argentine No 10 and captain, who scored his 14th goal across all competition this season off a header from Aaron Boupendza.
Vazquez, a US national team forward, doubled Cincinnati’s lead in the 53rd minute on a laser from outside the box, off a low cross from former Atletico Madrid and Colombia international defender Santiago Arias.