Lionel Messi: Real Salt Lake Come Up With Bizarre Way to Stop Free Kick As MLS Returns

Lionel Messi: Real Salt Lake Come Up With Bizarre Way to Stop Free Kick As MLS Returns

Martin Moses
updated at February 22, 2024 at 7:07 AM
In this article:
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
United States Major League Soccer logo
United States
Inter Miami CF logo
Club Internacional de Futbol Miami
United States
Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake
United States
  • Real Salt Lake had to come up with a new way to defend a Lionel Messi free-kick
  • Messi was the star of the show as Inter Miami got their MLS campaign off with a win
  • His free-kick in the 16th minute was thwarted thanks to some bold defensive set-up

Lionel Messi forced an opponent to adopt an unconventional method of defending free-kicks on a night Major League Soccer returned.

Messi and Inter Miami hosted Real Salt Lake at the DRV PNK Stadium in their first game of the season on February 22.

Lionel Messi, Inter Miami, Real Salt Lake, Inter Miami
Lionel Messi in action for Inter Miami against Real Salt Lake. Photo by Chandan Khanna.
Source: Getty Images

It will be Messi's first full season in the United States alongside the club's other marquee signings, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

After a mixed preseason which saw them win only once, Tata Martino's side looked ready for the intrigues of the new season, with Messi setting up Robert Taylor six minutes before half-time for the opening goal. Suarez then turned provider, teeing up Diego Gomez for the second goal of the game in the 83rd minute.

The goal tally could have been more, with Messi getting on the end of numerous opportunities, but the visitors were equally determined to thwart his efforts.

Lionel Messi's free-kick vs Real Salt Lake

At one point, Messi lined up a free-kick just outside the area. For a person in the top-five list for the most free-kick goals scored in history, defending a Messi set-piece will always be difficult.

Real Salt Lake opted to have two players manning each goalpost, with the goalkeeper stationed in the middle behind the wall.

Here is the video of that moment

While it is illegal to do so, teams often set up their defence during a rival free-kick further away from the goal to prevent putting the other team onside in case of a rebound.

To Real Salt Lake's credit, the tactic worked with Messi's effort flying over the wall and getting cleared by one of the players on the goalposts.

Inter Miami's next game will be against Los Angeles Galaxy on February 26, while Real Salt Lake will take on St. Loius City.

Messi flicks ball over injured player

Sports Brief has also reported that Messi chipped the ball over a player who was down injured during their win over Real Salt Lake.

Inter Miami did not stop play for the player to get medical attention, with Messi going around him by flicking the ball past him.

The Argentine star's attempted shot was blocked inside the area.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)