Messi plays in Tokyo friendly, but Vissel Kobe beats Inter Miami 4-3 on penalties
By TOI Desk Report February 7, 2024 Update on : February 7, 2024
Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami teammates lose to Japanese league champion Vissel Kobe 4-3 in penalties following a 0-0 tie in Tokyo Wednesday.
After leaving fans disappointed in Hong Kong, Messi put in a 30-minute appearance in Tokyo in Inter Miami‘s latest exhibition match in Asia and seemed to be moving well, reports Hindustan Times.
Due to a hip injury, he played only seven minutes in the second game in Saudi Arabia.
Inter Miami teammates made a few dangerous approaches after he entered the game but to no avail.
Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said they decided Messi would play 30 minutes as he felt good after training Tuesday.
Lionel Messi came off the bench for the final half-hour and strengthened his teammates. Probably, he had the best chance of the match in the 80th with two point-blank shots, but Vissel Kobe defence stopped both.
The match went to penalty kicks and Vissel won the shootout 4-3 after a 0-0 draw in regulation.
Messi however did not take a penalty which brought jeers from the crowd in Tokyo’s National Stadium.
The Argentina star stayed on the bench for the entire game with a groin injury, although some fans demanded refunds.
The match in Tokyo ended Inter Miami’s global promotional tour. The club stretched from El Salvador to Dallas into Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong and ended in Tokyo. Of the six games, Inter won only one.
The Miami pre-season will wrap up on February 16 in Florida against Newell’s Old Boys.
Former Barcelona players- Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets—are also in Inter Miami while Andres Iniesta, another former Barcelona star, played several seasons in Japan with Vissel Kobe.
After missing the Hong Kong match with knee inflammation, Forward Luis Suarez returned to the starting lineup, but Miami heads home with another injury to worry about.
The government said in a statement, the Major Sports Events Committee (MSEC) had granted $1.92 million for the event along with a one million Hong Kong dollar grant for the venue.
The Government, as well as all football fans, are extremely disappointed about the organisers’ arrangement regarding Messi not playing the match.