Just like his Leagues Cup 2023 heroics that guided the Herons to their first-ever trophy, Messi came to the rescue and guided the defending World Cup champions to a dramatic 1-0 home win over Ecuador with a stunning dead-ball strike.
With the game scoreless in the 78th minute, the superstar No. 10 curled a free kick into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Hernán Galíndez completely flat-footed.
It was just the latest feather in the cap of Messi, who led Argentina – with the help of Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada – to World Cup glory at Qatar 2022 and is enjoying a dream start to life with Miami, posting 11g/5a (counting only primary assists) in 11 games across all competitions since his mid-July arrival.
Thursday night's exploits came one day after the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was included in the 30-player shortlist for this year's award.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Carlos Gruezo played the full 90 minutes for Ecuador at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, while Almada and first-time call-up Alan Velasco (FC Dallas) weren't included in head coach Lionel Scaloni's matchday squad.