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  • Messi stars with two goals and an assist in his first start for Inter Miami
  •  It was a night of firsts in Fort Lauderdale. Lionel Messi's first start for Inter Miami. His first brace, assist, and a new experience for Atlanta United.

    It was a night of firsts in Fort Lauderdale. Lionel Messi's first start for Inter Miami. His first brace, assist, and a new experience for Atlanta United.

    The seventh-placed Eastern Conference MLS team were humiliated by last-placed Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup game -- and the first to experience Argentine-driven devastation awaiting soccer clubs across the nation.

    While Diddy, DJ Khaled, Camila Cabello and the Beckhams created a star-studded feel in the stands, the true gem dazzled in pastel pink -- a shirt already desired across the globe.

    Messi scored the first two goals of the game which was his in name and nature. The rejuvenated 36-year-old left just eight minutes of game time between his outrageous game-winning free kick vs. Cruz Azul and the opener against Atlanta.

    By the 22nd minute it was time to add another; bringing his classic give-and-go move to South Florida.

    Leading the attack from midfield, Messi passed to Robert Taylor on his left before receiving the ball back from a slide-rule pull-back, adding the gentlest of touches to find the back of the net.

    Taylor, who at one point was on the books at League One team, Lincoln City, feasted off the presence of Messi turning from provider to profiteer.

    A stunning volley just before half gave Miami a three-goal buffer. He, nor his attacking partner, were done there.

    Messi's first assist was a product of his sheer magnetism; drawing three defenders to him, allowing Taylor to sprint from his own half unmarked before the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner laid it off for Taylor to double his tally.

    With the embarrassment of Atlanta complete, Messi left the road team with some dignity, exiting the field with 78 minutes gone to a standing ovation and cries of his last name.

    A pitch invader tried to get to the Argentine before he took his seat on the substitutes bench, but just like those in red-and-black he could not get near the diminutive dynamo.

    Christopher McVey created the first - and only - blemish on the night for Miami, giving away a penalty six minutes later.

    Atlanta superstar Thiago Almada stepped up and looked to put United on the board. Didn't he know there was only room for one Argentine in the spotlight?

    Turns out, he did. The World Cup winner delivered a paltry attempt at Drake Callender's goal which was duly saved.

    Though, it wasn't all without reward for Almada, who left DRV PNK Stadium with Messi's game worn jersey.

    Messi's work was not over, taking a jersey with his name and number and adding a signature as the inconsequential final minutes played out.

    The obligatory work continued following the final whistle as Messi stopped for a photo with Khaled before etching his name onto paraphernalia of those crowded around the tunnel.

    Messi's last moments inside the Fort Lauderdale stadium brought the lucky fans indescribable joy -- his next could be more misery for his opposing contemporaries.

    Charlotte FC, you've been warned.

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