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Lionel Messi salvages Inter Miami draw with late score

Teammates hug Inter Miami midfielder Lionel Messi (C) after he scored a goal during the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Photo by Allison Dinner/EPA-EFE
1 of 7 | Teammates hug Inter Miami midfielder Lionel Messi (C) after he scored a goal during the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Photo by Allison Dinner/EPA-EFE

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi completed a give-and-go passing sequence before sliding and blasting a shot into the top of the net in stoppage time, helping Inter Miami log a dramatic draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The score occurred in the 92nd minute of the 1-1 match Sunday in Carson, Calif. Messi now has a goal and assist through the Herons' (1-0-1) first two games of the 2024 MLS campaign.

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The Herons held a 59% to 41% edge in possession, but were outshot 23-11. They out-passed their West Coast counterparts 566 to 344. Herons goalie Drake Callender totaled eight saves in the draw.

Callender saved a penalty kick in the 13th minute and both teams threatened throughout the first half. They didn't finish until Galaxy striker Dejan Joveljic scored in the 75th minute. Midfielder Marky Delgado assisted the Serbian.

Winger Joseph Paintsil received a pass past midfield during a breakaway to set up that goal. He then carried his dribble right and passed off to center midfielder Riqui Puig, who fired a shot. Callender denied the attempt, but the ball bounced onto the boot of Delgado.

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The midfielder used his first touch to fire a pass across the face of the goal and back toward the far post. Joveljic received the feed and used his left boot to tap a shot into the net.

Delgado received his second yellow card, resulting in a red-card ejection, in the 88th minute. Both teams continued to put shots on goal, but didn't finish again until Messi's stoppage-time magic.

The Galaxy defense intercepted a Messi pass in their own territory at the start of that sequence. Messi stole the ball back and fired a pass to his right, finding defender Jordi Alba. The right back used his first touch to hit the ball back to his star teammate.

Messi dribbled and hit another pass back to the defender, before running behind the defense. Alba then sent a final pass back to Messi, who ran into the middle of the box, slid and used his left boot to rip a shot into the net.

The Herons, who beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Wednesday in the first game of the MLS season, remain the top team in the league standings, with four points (three from the win and one from the draw) through their first two games.

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They will battle Orlando City SC at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Galaxy will meet the San Jose Earthquakes at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in San Joses, Calif.

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