Lionel Messi returns for Inter Miami vs. Vissel Kobe

Miami - Vissel kobe preseason recap

Lionel Messi returned to action Wednesday for Inter Miami CF, appearing as a 60th-minute substitute vs. Vissel Kobe in a penalty-kick defeat (4-3) after a 0-0 draw at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.

The Argentine megastar missed Inter Miami’s recent tune-up victory over the Hong Kong Team due to injury (adductor), then provided an attacking spark against the reigning J1 League champions as they sought a game-winner.

After back-and-forth chances, Inter Miami dropped the shootout as Gregore, Robert Taylor and Noah Allen all missed their attempts.

The other major update involves midfielder Sergio Busquets, who was replaced by SuperDraft pick Yannick Bright in the 25th minute after weathering a crunching tackle to his ankle. Busquets looked eager to continue, but was subbed out as a precaution.

Star striker Luis Suárez, who missed the Hong Kong Team match due to knee discomfort, returned to the starting XI and played 75 minutes.


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  • MIA: Drake Callender - Jordi Alba, Noah Allen, Tomás Avilés (Ryan Sailor 75’), DeAndre Yedlin - Sergio Busquets (Yannick Bright 25’), Gregore, David Ruíz (Lionel Messi 60’) - Robert Taylor, Luis Suárez (Leonardo Campana 75’), Julian Gressel

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: The overseas portion of Inter Miami’s preseason tour has concluded, spanning El Salvador, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Now, a seventh-and-final preseason match awaits on Feb. 15 vs. Argentine top-flight side Newell’s Old Boys (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) before their Feb. 21 regular-season opener vs. Real Salt Lake (8 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). Both clashes mark a return home to DRV PNK Stadium.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Nostalgia was in full effect as Andrés Iniesta reunited with Messi, Suárez, Busquets and Alba. Iniesta played with that quartet on legendary FC Barcelona teams and suited up for Vissel Kobe before shifting to the UAE Pro League.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Vissel Kobe goalkeeper Shota Arai came up clutch in PKs.

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