Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) scores a goal against Charlotte FC during the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale Image Credit: AP

FORT LAUDERDALE: Lionel Messi made it eight goals in five games for Inter Miami as they eased into the semi-finals of the Leagues Cup with a 4-0 win over Charlotte FC on Friday.

The Argentine slotted in Miami's fourth goal in the 86th minute of what was a relatively routine victory for Gerardo Martino's team.

The seven-times Ballon d'Or winner had one of his quietest games in Miami's pink jersey but was still able to find the target for his legions of fans.

Miami took the lead in the 12th minute through a Josef Martinez penalty and doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute through in-form Robert Taylor, who clipped home a low cross from DeAndre Yedlin.

Charlotte, who had been largely content to frustrate Messi and Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets in the opening 45 minutes, showed more adventure after the break and substitute Patrick Agyemang should have pulled a goal back but his close-range header bounced over the bar.

Immediately following that let-off, Miami made sure of victory with Diego Gomez playing a low cross towards Messi in the middle only for Charlotte defender Adilson Malanda's attempted interception ended up in his own goal.

Malanda's ill-fated slide had denied the home crowd their expected Messi goal celebration, but that was to arrive three minutes from the end of time.

With the North Carolina side tiring, Leonardo Campana had time to look up and slip the ball to Messi for a simple conversion.

Miami will face the winners of the quarter-final between the Philadelphia Union and Mexican club Queretaro, which was also being played on Friday.