Inter Miami finally clinched their first preseason victory after overcoming a Hong Kong XI with a 4-1 scoreline on Sunday. However, the much-anticipated debut of Lionel Messi did not materialize as the star player was sidelined due to a reported hamstring injury.
Head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino had hinted at Messi’s potential involvement in the friendly match during a press conference on Friday. Yet, Messi was conspicuously absent from Miami’s matchday squad, along with former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez, and Jordi Alba, who were all kept on the bench.
Facing a team comprising players from the Hong Kong Premier League, Inter Miami capitalized on the lack of cohesion among the hosts. Despite the unfamiliarity among the Hong Kong XI players, their coach Jørn Andersen acknowledged their efforts, attributing the loss to their limited time together.
Miami opened the scoring through Robert Taylor’s well-placed strike just before halftime. However, the lead was short-lived as Henry Anier quickly equalized for the Hong Kong XI. Lawson Sunderland and Leonardo Campana added two more goals for Miami shortly after the break, seizing control of the match.
The introduction of Busquets and Alba further bolstered Miami’s dominance, with Ryan Sailor sealing the victory with a glancing header that found the back of the net.
This victory marked a turnaround for Inter Miami after suffering defeats in their previous preseason encounters, including a heavy loss to Al Nassr, where Cristiano Ronaldo was absent due to injury.
Inter Miami will look to build on this momentum as they continue their preseason tour with a fixture against Vissel Kobe in Japan on Wednesday. With Messi’s return eagerly awaited, fans anticipate an even stronger performance from the MLS side in the upcoming matches.