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Messi shows class by giving Inter Miami penalty to struggling team-mate



Messi celebrates with Josef Martinez

Lionel Messi once again showed that he is not just an extraordinary footballer, he is also a great human being as the superstar allowed Josef Martinez to take a penalty during Inter Miami’s 3-1 win against Orlando City.

Since Messi joined the MLS, it’s been all about him, and rightly so, as he scored another brace for his new side on Wednesday night.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored five goals in his first three games for the MLS team, and already looks like breaking records for David Beckham’s franchise.

Messi has been a sensation, and he’s even brought the best out of Miami winger Robert Taylor, but strikers have struggled alongside the World Cup winner.

Josef Martinez started with Messi on Wednesday night, with the Venezuelan striker also recognised as a designated player under MLS ruling. He’s been desperate to get off the mark since Messi’s arrival, and the Argentine gave him the golden opportunity.

Martinez won a penalty for Miami early in the second half, and the fans at DRV PNK Stadium prepared for Messi to step up from 12 yards and score yet another goal. Messi has taken 140 penalties in his stunning career, scoring 78 percent of his efforts from 12 yards.

But Messi gave the ball to Martinez and allowed him to take the glory, and he did just that by slotting it past Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Messi has already been given the captain’s armband since joining Miami, and he’s certainly shown he’s worthy since putting on the light pink shirt.

From scoring a winning free-kick on his debut, to scoring a brace on his second appearance, he’s carried his team that are currently struggling in MLS. The Leagues Cup has given Miami a sense of respite, allowing them to forget about their woeful league form and focus on knockout football with their new A-list stars.

And Wednesday’s performance against Orlando was by far Messi’s most impressive showing as captain yet. Messi was seen arguing with Orlando midfielder Cesar Araujo, who was physical throughout the game and jumped in on a challenge with Sergio Busquets.

Araujo wasn’t blinded by the lights, and argued back with Messi as the two players left the field exchanging words at half-time. But his most admirable moment was giving Martinez the ball after he won a penalty, allowing the Miami striker to score his first goal since Messi joined the team.

Messi is already their designated set piece taker, but the Argentine knew how much a goal would mean to Martinez and also the team as a whole, even though in hindsight it would’ve seen him score his first hat-trick in the United States.

But Martinez then assisted Messi for a goal just 23 minutes after the penalty, as the pair have started their link-up in attack.

It was Messi’s other connection that assisted his first, as Taylor set up Messi inside seven minutes.

His new team-mate Martinez only joined from fellow MLS team Atlanta United in January, after scoring 98 goals in 134 games for his former side. Martinez was handed the tough task of replacing Gonzalo Higuain, and has scored six goals in 20 appearances so far.

But this is a new era for Miami, with an added pressure to all of those who now play around Messi. The Argentine believed in his striker as he handed over responsibility, and the relief on the face of Martinez was clear to see.

“Messi let me take the penalty. I wasn’t having a good time, so he let me take the penalty so I could regain my confidence. I appreciate that,” Martinez stated after the match.

Messi has now given 31 penalties in his career to his teammates.

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