Lionel Messi phenomenon: Stars turned out to watch the Inter Miami striker's MLS match in New York - including NBA icon Carmelo Anthony and style artists Fat Joe and French Montana

Lionel Messi phenomenon: Stars turned out to watch the Inter Miami striker’s MLS match in New York – including NBA icon Carmelo Anthony and style artists Fat Joe and French Montana

With arguably the greatest soccer player of all time in town, a number of famous faces turned out at Red Bull Arena for Lionel Messi’s MLS debut on Saturday night.

Messi made the trip to New York this weekend for his very first league fixture with Inter Miami, which he marked with a sensational late goal after coming off the bench.

Given the anticipation surrounding his MLS bow, ticket prices for the game soared dramatically over the past week, with some fans forking out over $20,000 to grab a piece of the action.

Several big names also made sure to secure their seat at Red Bull Arena, including New York hip-hop stars Fat Joe and French Montana.

Both artists were at Saturday’s game along with rap legend DMC, who bizarrely claimed prior to kick off that he is set to run for president, Vin Rock, DJ Kay Gee, DJ Skribble and DJ Scratcon on a night which also saw the Red Bulls host a celebration for the 50th anniversary of hip hop.

Fat Joe (left) and Carmelo Anthony (right) were among the stars in attendance for Lionel Messi’s MLS debut in New York on Saturday night

Messi marked his league bow with a goal as Inter Miami picked up a 2-0 win over the Red Bulls

Women’s soccer couple Kristie Mewis (center left) and Sam Kerr (right) were also at the game

Another rap star, French Montana, watched on as Messi got on the scoresheet in New York

Also in attendance was former NBA forward Carmelo Anthony, New York-born playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and women’s soccer couple Kristie Mewis and Sam Kerr.

Unfortunately for all the celebrities in question – along with fans who spent heavily on tickets – Messi was not involved from the start of the game after being named on the bench by Inter boss Tata Martino.

Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain had started Miami’s last seven fixtures, guiding them to glory in the Leagues Cup while also inspiring their US Open Cup semifinal victory over Cincinnati in the week.

As a result, Martino hinted on Friday that his star man would be rested for upcoming matches after a whirlwind start to life in the States.

He was eventually introduced on the hour mark with Inter 1-0 ahead after Diego Gomez’s first-half opener, and with minutes remaining some Messi magic sealed the three points.

After picking up the ball inside the box, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner twisted and turned before threading through Benjamin Cremaschi near the byline with an outstanding pass, which allowed him to pull it back across goal for Messi to tap home.

Messi was on the bench for 60 minutes on Saturday night along with Sergio Busquets (right)

But after entering the fray he linked up superbly with Benjamin Cremaschi to seal the victory

He has now scored 11 goals in his first nine appearances, claiming victory in all nine of them – albeit two via penalty shootouts.

Just as Wednesday’s semifinal against Cincinnati appeared to be slipping away from them, Messi produced a sensational cross to tee up Campana for a last-gasp equalizer.

Miami then went on to win on penalties for the second time in the space of four days, booking their place in next month’s final against Houston Dynamo.

Next up for Messi and Inter is the visit of Nashville at DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday night.



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