Lionel Messi began his Inter Miami career with a bang as the Argentinian magician ended his debut with a stunning free-kick winner against Cruz Azul deep in stoppage time.

Seven months on from lifting the World Cup, the eyes of the footballing world were trained on Florida as the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner made his eagerly anticipated first appearance.

Messi’s Miami debut has been years in the making and proved well worth the wait.

After Robert Taylor’s excellent opener was cancelled out by Uriel Antuna, the 36-year-old struck at the death to send DRV PNK Stadium delirious and seal an unforgettable 2-1 Leagues Cup win.

It was the dream end to an evening that attracted fans of all ages in ‘Messi 10’ shirts, with stars like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian and, of course, David Beckham among those in the sold-out, expectant crowd.

The proud Miami co-owner watched on from a box next to the dugout, where the early exchanges made for uncomfortable viewing as Miami looked every bit the Eastern Conference’s bottom side.

Inter rode out that early storm and took the lead just before the break as Taylor’s exquisite low strike went in off the post to Messi’s delight.

The forward was cheered throughout and received a rapturous reception when brought on in the 54th minute, taking the armband as Sergio Busquets also came on for his debut.

Jordi Alba has also signed up to join their former Barcelona boss Tata Martino in Miami, but there remains work to do and that was clear as Cruz Azul deservedly levelled through Antuna.

The Mexicans could easily have won it as the clock wound down, but this was Messi’s night.

The 36-year-old won a free-kick deep in stoppage time and there was an air of inevitability before he sent the resulting set piece into the top left-hand corner as fireworks filled the air.

This was a huge moment for Major League Soccer and momentous night for North American football, 48 years on from Pele’s New York Cosmos bow and 16 years to the day since Beckham made his LA Galaxy debut.

Messi’s name was chanted by excited fans through a match that the hosts began in ragged fashion as Cruz Azul toyed with the hosts. Carlos Rotondi sent an early effort off the post during that early barrage.

Miami offered precious little in return but – following a break to deal with Ian Fray’s nasty-looking injury – a moment of magic lit up the game.

Robbie Robinson’s diagonal pass found Taylor high and wide on the left, with the Finland international cutting inside, making space and slamming a low right-footed shot in off the far post.

Messi was on his feet celebrating and soon gearing to come on, with the big moment eventually arriving in the 54th minute.

Benjamin Cremaschi made way as the Argentina skipper jogged on to a huge roar and took the captain’s armband. Former Barca team-mate Busquets and Josef Martinez joined him as part of an exciting triple substitutions.

There was an electric atmosphere whenever Messi touched the ball but the Mexican visitors were still making opportunities and drew level in the 65th minute.

Antuna collected the ball in a dangerous and Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender was unable to deal with his drilled strike.

Messi showed flashes of quality, skill and poise as play swung from end to end with both sides seeking a winner.

Ignacio Rivero was denied Callender and there were a few hairy moments as this helter-skelter clash continued, with Messi threaded through by Busquets only to see a shot blocked.

Martinez looked to have won it but Messi had strayed well offside before passing it and at the other end Christian Tabo was brilliantly stopped by Callender.

Play was set to end in a penalty shoot-out but Messi had other ideas.

Fouled by Carlos Salcedo, it set up the chance for an unforgettable finish and the debutant delivered a thrilling final blow.

Canada-born defender Luke Singh is set to make his international debut for Trinidad and Tobago after being drafted as replacement for Daniel Phillips for the Concacaf Gold Cup, which gets underway on Saturday.

The Soca Warriors, who will bow into Group A action on Sunday against first-timer St Kitts and Nevis at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, lost the Scottish-based Phillips to an injury, which dealt somewhat of a blow to Angus Eve's squad that only includes two out and out strikers in Kadeem Corbin and Malcolm Shaw.

It is understood that Reports indicate Phillips, a midfielder, who represents Scottish Premiership outfit St Johnstone, sustained a Grade one quadriceps injury during the second half of the Soca Warriors practice match against Haiti recently and will be out of action for approximately three weeks.

As such, the 22-year-old Singh, who is currently on loan with Canadian Premier League club Atletico Ottawa from Toronto FC, found favour with the coaching staff and joined the team on Thursday with expectations high that the towering defender, standing over six-foot tall, will add value to the Soca Warriors charge.

Trinidad and Tobago will start favourites for Sunday's fixtures scheduled for 2:30pm, having defeated St Kitts and Nevis 2-0 in their lone meeting during the World Cup qualifiers in 2021.

Their group also includes reigning seven-time champion United States and title aspirants Jamaica, who will lock horns on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago at 8:30pm.

The twin island republic secured their spot in this year’s tournament after initial qualifiers Nicaragua, was booted for using an ineligible player during their 1-1 Nations League stalemate, which aided the qualification process.

Trinidad and Tobago squad: Marvin Phillip, Denzil Smith, Nicklaus Frenderup, Aubrey David, Sheldon Bateau, Luke Singh, Leland Archer, Kareem Moses, Shannon Gomez, Alvin Jones, Triston Hodge, Joevin Jones, Ryan Telfer, Ajani Fortune, Kevin Molino, Real Gill, Neveal Hackshaw, Andre Rampersad, Kaile Auvray, Molik Khan, Kadeem Corbin, Levi Garcia, Malcolm Shaw

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