Lionel Messi came off the bench for the final 10 minutes of Inter Miami’s 6-0 loss to Al Nassr in a friendly despite initially being ruled out through injury.
The diminutive Argentine sustained a muscle injury during Monday’s 4-3 defeat to Al Hilal and an MRI scan revealed damage enough for him to sit out the second match of their stopover in Saudi Arabia.
Cristiano Ronaldo had similarly been ruled out of this meeting with injury and though Messi seemed certain to follow him to the sidelines, he came on as an 83rd-minute substitute with his side already 6-0 down.
Inter Miami were being humiliated by their Saudi hosts for much of the evening in Riyadh, with Al Nassr racing into a three-goal lead with only 12 minutes on the clock. The pick of the early goals came from former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte, who lobbed goalkeeper Drake Callender from inside his own half.
Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca scored a hat-trick for Al Nassr – mimicking Ronaldo’s iconic celebration after grabbing his third of the day – while Otavio and Mohammed Maran were also among the goals.
Ex-Barcelona stars Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba started the match for Inter Miami. Busquets was the only one among the trio to complete the full 90 minutes, however.
On 83 minutes, manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino threw on Messi in place of Leonardo Campana, seeing out the closing stages of the game at Kingdom Arena.
Inter Miami are back in action on February 4 when they take on a Hong Kong League XI. They then travel to Japan to face Vissel Kobe and return home to the United States to round off pre-season preparations against Messi’s boyhood side Newell’s Old Boys.