In the shootout, Lionel Messi’s goal and Drake Calendar’s heroics have led Inter Miami CF to take the lead in their first trophy, in the CF-First Trophy, for the Leagues Cup final 2023, as they defeated Nashville SC – all in the thrilling shootout, marking the final of the 2023 Spandit Liga Cup.” on Saturday night, defeating Nashville SC in a penalty kick shootout of 10-9 – all after drawing 1-1 in regular time at GEOD Park.
The 11-round shootout was clinched by Calendar’s two saves, first by Nashville’s midfielder Randall Lille and then by their goalkeeper Elliot Panico. Messi started off the penalty kicks, adding to his world-record 44th trophy for both club and country, as Herons’ shift to a 1-1 draw was maintained from the last-place finish in MLS.
The regulation-time goals were made in both halves of the halftime, as Messi (23′) began with a pinpoint strike into the upper corner after a challenge review for his 10th golden boot-clinching goal by Walker Zimmerman. However, Nashville’s winger Fafa Picault (57′) managed to equalize through his header from a corner kick, bewilderingly boosting his team’s strength in the set-piece tussles.
In this 2020 MLS expansion sibling rivalry, Miami prevailed with a late victory, hitting the post twice in the second half. Messi was the initial executor, defeating Panico but not the woodwork in the 71st minute. Then, in the 93rd minute, after Sergio Busquets’ long ball, striker Leonardo Campana’s boot carried the trophy – disallowing his sliding attempt to capitalize on Panico’s goalkeeping, only for the goal frame.
Nashville mounted pressure on its own, particularly through the involvement of Hany Mukhtar-Suraj Kadam. Both standout players had forced Calendar to the big time, yet neither managed to seal the deal according to the rules—Epic PK shootouts beckon, with Harens taking the lead in the dramatic act.
Both revered athletes pushed Calendar to extra time, but the match couldn’t be settled as per regulations. The great saga continues, with a PK shootout ensuing, and Harens emerged victorious at the pinnacle.