Al Hilal defeated Inter Miami CF and Lionel Messi 4-3 on Monday in a club friendly held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, thanks to a late header from Malcolm.
With a goal from Aleksandar Mitrovic and another from Abdullah Al-Hamddan, who took advantage of Inter Miami’s clumsy clearing, the Saudi Pro League team—which is full of former European professionals—sprinted out to a 2-0 lead.
Before halftime, the visitors equalised through Luis Suárez, who scored his first goal since moving to Miami. Messi’s equaliser was disallowed for offside, but Al Hilal scored again through a header from Michael Delgado to lead 3-1 at the half.
In an intense opening 10 minutes of the second half, David Ruiz nearly single-handedly put Miami back in the game by earning a penalty that Messi converted and then scored with a brilliant shot from the top of the area.
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Both teams had opportunities to win, but it wasn’t until the 88th minute that Al Hilal finally seized the lead thanks to a header from Malcolm that raced forward in response to a cross from Yasir Al Shahrani and struck the goal off Drake Callender’s fingertips.
This outcome means that Miami has lost its first three preseason games, having drawn with El Salvador and lost to FC Dallas. Just before Malcolm’s winning goal in the 87th minute, Messi, who has played an increasing amount of minutes in each of Miami’s preseason games, was substituted off.
When Messi left Paris Saint-Germain and became the sport’s most sought-after free agent last year, Al-Hilal was heavily linked to a move for the player.
In the end, he decided to relocate to Miami to play for David Beckham’s squad, and he soon helped the team win its first trophy—the Leagues Cup.
In his first full season, he and Miami will be looking for even greater success. As part of the preparations, he will go on a lengthy trip that will stop in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Japan.
The Portugal star’s participation is uncertain because of a recent injury, but Miami takes face Al Nassr and Cristiano Ronaldo in its second game in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.