Lionel Messi: Inter Miami boss Martino hails ‘genius’ after added-time goal in MLS draw with LA Galaxy

Lionel Messi playing football for Inter Miami

Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino has called Lionel Messi a “genius” after the striker scored his first goal of the season to equalise in the 92nd minute against LA Galaxy in the club’s first MLS away game of the campaign on Sunday.

Argentina captain Messi combined to dazzling effect with former Barcelona team-mate Jordi Alba to rescue a point for Inter after Dejan Jovejlic’s tap-in had put Galaxy ahead 15 minutes from time.

Goalkeeper Drake Callender, who saved Riqui Puig’s 19th-minute penalty and denied the Spanish midfielder again with a spectacular save shortly afterwards, joined Messi in the MLS Team of the Matchday.

“In the first half, they dominated and were better than us,” Martino said of a game in which Galaxy had 24 of the 35 shots but only 36% of possession.

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“We started controlling the game better and were more fluid. Our opponents scored on the counter-attack, but we had the personality to continue searching and we did well to draw, with the genius of Leo. The connection was very good and the goal was very nice.”

Pre-season signing Luis Suarez, who has started both of Inter’s first two matches of the season, again failed to score for the visitors and was replaced by Leonardo Campana midway through the second half.

“In general, the whole team – not only Luis – played a first half that was kind of weak and loose,” said Martino. “In the second half, we played better and had opportunities.”

One player hoping to join Messi in Argentina’s senior squad, 21-year-old Federico Redondo, was not involved after signing from Inter from Argentinos Juniors on Friday.

“The delay could happen because of his paperwork,” Martino said, discussing the midfielder who has a contract until 2027 with the option for a further year. “From a physical point of view, he is fine.”

Redondo could join Messi at the 2024 Paris Olympics after helping Argentina reach the games in a Conmebol qualification tournament, scoring once for his country along the way.

Inter are top of the Eastern Conference on four points but have played a game more than any other team in the table. Their next match is at home to Orlando City on Saturday (21:30 GMT).

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