Messi's late goal saves Inter Miami to draw vs. LA Galaxy: Highlights, stats, match recap

The Los Angeles Galaxy were five minutes away from beating Lionel Messi and Inter Miami.

But it was enough time for the world’s greatest player to rescue Inter Miami and make his mark in Los Angeles.

Messi scored a sliding kick in the 92nd minute of the match to save Inter Miami, resulting in a 1-1 draw against the Galaxy on Sunday night, to wrap the opening weekend of the 2024 MLS season.

Inter Miami coach Tata Martino credited the tie to “the genius of Leo.”

Messi and Inter Miami were frustrated for 90 minutes, and on the brink of their first loss in the second match of the season.

It also appeared Messi, the 2022 World Cup champion and eight-time Ballon d’Or winner as soccer’s best player, would go scoreless in two MLS matches.

But no lead is safe with Messi on the pitch in front of a sell-out crowd of 27,642 fans, the largest for a Galaxy match at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Messi and his longtime friend and Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba continued to work, trading passes back and forth until Messi scored with a left boot inside the goal area to tie the match two minutes into extra time.

Galaxy’s Dejan Joveljic scored following a rebound in the 75th minute to take a 1-0 lead.

Until that point, Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender was the player of the match, finishing with eight saves after fending off multiple shots from Galaxy standouts like Riqui Puig, Joseph Paintsil and Miki Yamane.

“It was thanks in large part to him that the team was still in the match after the first half,” Martino said of Callender.

Besides Callender’s standout play, Inter Miami largely struggled until Messi’s breakout moment.

Inter Miami appeared slow and old because of their former Barcelona stars not named Messi and Alba. Midfielder Sergio Busquets struggled, mostly in the first half.

Luis Suarez struggled throughout the match, leaving in the 67th minute as a substitute. He nearly had a shot on goal before halftime, but could not get enough of it in the goal area. It still would not have counted with Alba ruled offside in the sequence.

“I feel that the team’s best moment came after the substitutions,” Martino said.

Messi nearly scored in the 89th minute, with his left boot just a bit outside the post after he tried to sneak one into the back of the net past Galaxy goalie John McCarthy, who had four saves before the game-tying goal.

One minute earlier, Galaxy’s Mark Delgado picked up his second yellow card in the 88th minute, resulting in a red card and an ejection. The Galaxy finished the match with 10 players.

Messi led all players with eight shots in the match, three of them on target. But the Galaxy doubled Inter Miami’s total shots (23-11) and nearly had double the shots on goal (9-5) in the affair.

After two matches in five nights, Inter Miami's next match is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET against Orlando City at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We have a long season ahead, so as long as we can keep playing consistently and fix up a few things that we’re working on tactically, then I think we’ll be okay,” Callender said after the game.

Messi walks out with Saint West, son of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West before LA Galaxy game

It helps to be a celebrity: Lionel Messi walked out with Saint West, son of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (also known as Ye) during pregame introductions.

“Saint walking out with @leomessi !!!!!” Kardashian posted on her Instagram story.

Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy highlights

Lionel Messi scored in the second minute of second-half injury time off a pass from Jordi Alba, and Inter Miami salvaged a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night.

Messi goal in 92nd minute: Inter Miami 1, LA Galaxy 1

Messi has responded in extra time.

Jordi Alba delivered a pass to Lionel Messi, who scored in the 92nd minute of the match.

We’re all tied at 1 in Los Angeles.

Messi misses in 89th minute: LA Galaxy 1, Inter Miami 0

So close: Messi nearly squeezed a shot into the left side in the 89th minute, but it was no good. There will be seven minutes of extra time.

Galaxy’s Mark Delgado picked up his second yellow card in the 88th minute, and the Galaxy will play with 10 men in the final minutes of the match.

Diego Gomez has right leg injury: LA Galaxy 1, Inter Miami 0

Inter Miami’s Diego Gomez, who scored in the opener, is coming off with a right leg injury.

Luckily for Inter Miami, LA Galaxy’s Puig and Painstill missed shots in the 79th minute.

Dejan Joveljic goal: LA Galaxy 1, Inter Miami 0

It was a beautiful sequence for LA Galaxy, as Joveljic’s kick helps them take a 1-0 lead on Inter Miami.

Riqui Puig’s shot was blocked by Inter Miami goalie Drake Callendar, but the ball went right to Galaxy’s Mark Delgado, who found Joveljic streaking down the left side.

Messi and Inter Miami trail 1-0 after the 75th minute.

Messi free kick, Deigo Gomez misses: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Messi’s free kick from 30 yards out hit a defender, setting up a shot for Diego Gomez. But Galaxy goalie John McCarthy is doing his part, just like Drake Callender has for Inter Miami.

Miki Yamane hits the right post, Suarez is subbed out: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

L.A. Galaxy’s Miki Yamane missed a shot off the right post in the 66th minute.

And Inter Miami has already gone to its bench: Luis Suarez and Robert Taylor, who scored in the opener, have been subbed out. Enter David Ruiz, who scored against Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia during the preseason, and Leo Campana into the lineup.

Messi misses two shots in second half: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Messi winded up for a shot from distance, but Galaxy goalie John McCarthy caught it. He also had a right-footed shot that was deflected by a Galaxy player in 60’.

In a action-packed sequence in the second half, Galaxy had two shots toward the net blocked by Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender.

A shot by Galaxy’s Martín Cáceres was blocked in the 57th minute, and Joseph Paintsil was blocked in the 59th minute.

Paintsil, one of the fastest players on the pitch, went down after a challenge but eventually bounced back up. He had his right knee evaluated.

Halftime updates:

Lionel Messi has been relatively quiet in the first half, but Sunday’s night match between Inter Miami visits the Los Angeles Galaxy has gotten off to a fiery start to wrap the first weekend of the 2024 MLS season.

Galaxy stars Riqui Puig and Joseph Paintsil have fired strikes toward Inter Miami’s net, but goalie Drake Callendar has been the player of the match so far.

Callendar has three early saves, as Inter Miami and L.A. Galaxy enter halftime tied 0-0. The match is being streamed on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

Messi had one kick toward the net but didn’t get enough of the shot during the first half. He nearly set up Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez for an opportunity just before the halftime whistle. But Suarez wasn’t ready for the shot on goal, and Alba was ruled offside.

The Galaxy has dominated possession early, but Callendar has kept Inter Miami in this match heading into the second half.

As MLS begins its 29th season, Messi continues to be the biggest draw since joining Inter Miami last summer. He also eclipsed 500 million followers on Instagram this weekend, as one of the most followed on the social media app.

Diego Gomez misses shot to begin second half: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Inter Miami’s Diego Gomez, who scored in the opener on Wednesday, had a shot on goal in the 46th minute, but to no avail.

It was Inter Miami’s best opportunity of the night so far, but handled by Galaxy goalie John McCarthy.

Messi challenged by LA Galaxy Edwin Cerrillo, Luis Suarez comes to interject: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Messi and Galaxy’s Edwin Cerrillo exchanged a series of words with each other in the 35th minute.

It caused Luis Suarez to come over and intervene, but pushing Cerrillo away.

Messi and Cerrillo continued to chirp after the sequence as tensions flare in Los Angeles.

Messi kicks toward net, but didn’t get enough of it: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Messi took his first attempt at a kick toward the net, but he didn’t get enough of it in the 30th minute.

Messi took the ball off a deflection, and it was secured by the Galaxy goalie John McCarthy.

Another epic save by Drake Callendar: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

L.A. Galaxy’s Riqui Puig had a wicked strike that was blocked by Inter Miami goalie Drake Callendar in the 28th minute.

Callendar has been the best player on the field so far for Inter Miami.

Joseph Paintsil’s shot blocked by Drake Callendar: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

LA Galaxy’s Joseph Paintsil had his shot on goal blocked by Inter Miami goalie Drake Callendar in the 25th minute. The Galaxy have dominated the early minutes against Inter Miami.

Sergio Busquets struggles: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

Yoshida’s header is wide after a free kick opportunity by LA Galaxy in the 23rd minute.

No player has struggled early in this match than Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets, who was given a yellow card for tripping Joseph Paintsil.

Drake Callendar blocks Riqui Puig’s penalty kick: Inter Miami 0, LA Galaxy 0

The Galaxy had a chance to take an early lead, but Inter Miami stopped all of that.

Inter Miami goalie Drake Callendar blocked Riqui Puig’s penalty kick in the 12th minute to keep the game tied at 0.

Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets pulled the shoulder of Galaxy’s Joseph Paintsil to cause the foul.

Early issues with backup referees in Inter Miami, LA Galaxy game

L.A. Galaxy star Riqui Puig was called for a foul on a tackle of Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets in the opening minutes, but it appeared to be a clean takeaway.

The backup referees calling the match have also pointed the wrong way when he blows whistle, as MLS announcer Taylor Twellman stated during the broadcast.

Messi Instagram followers top 500 million

Messi is in rare air on Instagram as the second person with at least 500 million followers on the social media network. Soccer fans know who has more, but here's the Top 10 most-followed accounts on Instagram.

Is Messi playing today? Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy starting lineups

Messi is in the starting lineup, and Inter Miami will be wearing their black Noche Buena jerseys for the second time during a regular season game since Messi joined the club.

Messi, Inter Miami players arrive for LA Galaxy match

Messi and Luis Suarez were all smiles coming off the Inter Miami bus for tonight's match. Here's video from MLS:

David Beckham returns to Los Angeles for Inter Miami, Galaxy game

David Beckham, the former L.A. Galaxy standout, is with his new team Inter Miami's for Sunday's match.

Many European stars have graced MLS in recent years, but it was Beckham's stint with L.A. Galaxy from 2007-12 that is most remembered and referred to as a pivotal moment in league history.

After all, there's no Messi in Inter Miami if there's no Beckham with L.A. Galaxy.

Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy betting odds

Inter Miami is +130 to win, L.A. Galaxy is +170 to win, and both teams are +280 to tie on the moneyline odds from BetMGM.

Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy predictions

Safid Deen - Inter Miami 4, LA Galaxy 1

Messi scores twice, Luis Suarez scores another, and one more Inter Miami player finds the back of the net in a 4-1 win against L.A. Galaxy.

Jim Reineking - Inter Miami 3, LA Galaxy 1

The Galaxy, a once upon a time MLS powerhouse, spent the offseason undergoing an aggressive roster overhaul in an attempt to improve a team that finished 13th in the Western Conference last season. The Galaxy added designated players Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec to team with incumbent Riqui Puig in the attack. It seems the Galaxy's strategy might be to outscore their opponents, because their defense remains a glaring team weakness. While Paintsil and Pec need to get acclimated with their new teammates, Lionel Messi and Co. already have a regular-season game under their belt. It could be one-way traffic in Carson against a Galaxy team in transition.

Lionel Messi reacts after a 2-0 season-opening win over Real Salt Lake.
Lionel Messi reacts after a 2-0 season-opening win over Real Salt Lake.

Messi, Inter Miami win season opener 2-0 

Messi did not score, but orchestrated both of Inter Miami’s goals in their 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the 2024 MLS season opener on Wednesday night.

Messi assisted on the first goal of the season to Robert Taylor in the 39th minute, and dropped a pass to Suarez, who assisted on Diego Gomez’s goal in the 83rd minute of the match.

Messi and Suarez each had one final shot attempt on goal in the final minutes of the match, but to no avail.

Last time Inter Miami played in Los Angeles

Messi had two assists in a 3-1 win for Inter Miami over LAFC on Sept. 3, 2023, with celebrities like Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Selena Gomez in attendance.

Messi’s viral clip continues to make waves with Real Salt Lake player’s response

Real Salt Lake’s Andrew Brody, who was the player Messi dribbled over while laying on the pitch during the season opener, addressed the play on his Instagram account on Thursday.

“For those asking, yes I was the cone on the ground there,” Brody posted on his Instagram story one day after the match.

Messi likely to play in two Argentina friendlies this March

The fallout from Lionel Messi’s absence for an Inter Miami match in Hong Kong has resulted in two more chances to watch him play in the United States next month.

Argentina will play El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on March 22 and Nigeria at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on March 26.

Curb your Messi Mania expectations in 2024

Major League Soccer is having its moment again in the United States, and you can thank Lionel Messi for that. This will be Messi’s first full season with the team after joining last summer, and captivating fans by leading the club to a Leagues Cup title a month after his arrival. The expectations are even higher in 2024.

But fans need to temper their expectations of how much they'll see Messi play – if they see him at all – with a grueling schedule ahead for the 36-year-old star.

Can Lionel Messi and Inter Miami be MLS Cup champions?

Lionel Messi — the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner and 2022 World Cup champion — is entering his first full season with Inter Miami CF. Messi's presence has made Inter Miami the betting favorites to hoist MLS Cup come Dec. 7.

Are those lofty expectations for Messi and Miami warranted? USA TODAY Network's soccer reporters and writers aren't so sure.

Inter Miami's season-opening schedule 

(All games available to stream on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.)

  • Feb. 21: Inter Miami 2, Real Salt Lake 0

  • Feb. 25, at Los Angeles Galaxy, 8:30 p.m. ET

  • March 2, vs. Orlando City, 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)

  • March 7, at Nashville SC/Moca winner, 9 p.m. ET (Concacaf Champions League)

  • March 10, vs. CF Montréal, 5 p.m. ET

  • March 13, vs. Nashville SC/Moca winner, 8:15 p.m. ET (Concacaf Champions League)

  • March 16, at D.C. United, 2 p.m. ET

Inter Miami's 2024 schedule

MLS Cup 2024 odds: Inter Miami is preseason favorite

Inter Miami was not exactly an elite MLS team in 2023. In fact, they were outside the playoff bubble for most of the season. However, in 2024, they are the favorites to win the MLS Cup.

Even if Lionel Messi remains healthy, Miami won't just waltz into MLS Cup. They'll have to contend with a myriad of great teams such as last year's winners, Columbus Crew SC, and last year's runner-up, Los Angeles FC.

Here are the 2024 MLS Cup favorites, courtesy of BetMGM:

  • Inter Miami (+250)

  • Los Angeles FC (+800)

  • Columbus Crew (+900)

  • FC Cincinnati (+1200)

  • Philadelphia Union (+1400)

  • New York Red Bulls (+1600)

  • Seattle Sounders (+1600)

  • Orlando City SC (+2000)

  • Atlanta United (+2200)

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inter Miami vs. LA Galaxy score: Full recap with every Messi highlight