Highlights

  • Messi featured for 30 minutes against Japanese side
  • The superstar missed the previous exhibition match in Hong Kong

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Lionel Messi's appearance came after his absence on the field had sparked significant disappointment among fans in Hong Kong, where he remained benched throughout the game due to his injury, leading to demands for refunds.

Lionel Messi finally plays against Vissel Kobe but Inter Miami lose 4-3 on penalties

Lionel Messi graced the field for 30 minutes in Inter Miami's exhibition match in Tokyo, part of their Asia tour, sparking excitement yet leaving some fans desiring further action. The football icon, having previously disappointed followers by not playing in Hong Kong due to a groin injury, sought to make amends with his participation against Vissel Kobe.

Despite Messi's efforts and a notable chance in the 80th minute, where he delivered two close-range shots thwarted by Vissel Kobe's defense, the game concluded in a 0-0 stalemate, proceeding to penalty kicks where Vissel Kobe triumphed 4-3. Notably, Messi abstained from taking a penalty, a choice that elicited jeers from the attendees at Tokyo's National Stadium, which was filled with 28,614 spectators out of a possible 68,000.

This appearance came after Messi's absence on the field had sparked significant disappointment among fans in Hong Kong, where he remained benched throughout the game due to his injury, leading to demands for refunds. Addressing the previous letdown, Messi expressed his regret in a rare Tokyo press conference, sharing his uncertainty about playing time due to his fitness levels.

The match against Vissel Kobe, which saw the home team hitting the post twice and dominating with the most significant chances, marked the conclusion of Inter Miami's extensive promotional journey. This tour took the team from El Salvador to Dallas, then onto Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and finally, Japan, with only one win in six games.

Inter Miami, enriched with former Barcelona talents such as Messi, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets, is now preparing to conclude its pre-season in Florida against Newell's Old Boys on February 16. This match holds sentimental value as Messi contemplates ending his illustrious career at his childhood club from Rosario, Argentina.

Andres Iniesta reunites with Inter Miami stars Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba

(With AP inputs)


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