Superstar Leo Messi, announced as doubtful due to hamstring pain, finally played the last half hour of the Inter Miami friendly match lost 4-3 on penalties (0-0) against the Japanese club of Vessel Kobe, Wednesday in Tokyo.
Unlike the Hong Kong supporters, angry on Sunday at not having seen the Argentine genius play, the 28,614 Japanese fans were delighted in the Olympic stadium. In the 60th minute, Messi entered the field to the screams of the young audience, whom he treated to precise passes and some devilish dribbles, in the bitter cold.
In the 79th minute, the former Barça and Paris SG star even got into a double face-to-face with goalkeeper Shota Arai, who first pushed the ball away then slowed his course, allowing the goalkeeper to be sent back. a defender. It was the highlight of this rather dull match, during which the Uruguayan Luis Suarez almost shined with an acrobatic scissors which grazed the opposing post.
To make the fun last, the two teams had a penalty shootout, won by Kobe, Japan's reigning champion, without Messi having had the opportunity to shoot. “At training yesterday (Tuesday) he told us he felt better. We then agreed that he was going to play 30 minutes,” said Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martinez after the match.
Sunday, against a selection from Hong Kong, Messi had kept his pink and black tracksuit throughout the game won by his team (4-1), arousing the ire of the 38,323 spectators who had paid dearly to admire the Argentinian world champion and ended up whistling it copiously, just like David Beckham, co-owner of Inter Miami. This absence has even become a state affair, with the Hong Kong authorities expressing their frustration.
The Florida club which is preparing its MLS season, the North American championship due to begin on February 22, ended a mainly promotional tour in Tokyo, consisting of four friendly matches, two in Saudi Arabia, against Al-Hilal (4-4 defeat). 3) and Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo's club (stinging 6-0 defeat), before the fiasco in Hong Kong, despite the victory, and this final outing in Tokyo.
If the former PSG player, 36, played and scored a penalty during the first meeting, he entered in the 84th minute of the match against Al-Nassr, before remaining a spectator in Hong Kong.