RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Lionel Messi and Inter Miami kicked off their tour in Saudi Arabia with a 4-3 defeat on Monday against Al Hilal.
The MLS club arrived in the oil-rich kingdom as part of their preseason preparation, but the presence of the Argentine star couldn’t prevent a stumble in Riyadh.
Messi found the net in the second half, but Brazilian Malcom scored the winning goal in the 88th minute.
Al-Hilal was one of the top contenders in Saudi Arabia for Messi to continue his career when he decided to leave Paris Saint-Germain, becoming one of the most sought-after free agents last year.
In the end, he chose to move to the United States to join David Beckham’s Miami team and quickly led the team to win their first trophy, the Leagues Cup.
Both Messi and the team hope for more success in their first full season, and the preparation includes an intense tour with stops in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Japan. They had previously played friendlies in El Salvador and Dallas.
The most anticipated match is the one on Thursday against Al Nasser, where Cristiano Ronaldo plays.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, former Newcastle and Fulham striker, gave Al Hilal the lead in the 10th minute, and Abdullah Al-Hamdan increased it three minutes later.
Luis Suárez, the Uruguayan star who recently joined Miami, narrowed the gap. However, Al Hilal reestablished a two-goal lead with the header from Brazilian Michael in the 44th minute.
Messi scored his goal in the 54th minute, converting a penalty to the left, and a minute later, he provided the assist to Honduran David Ruiz for the 3-3 equalizer.
Just when Miami seemed to secure a draw, Malcom scored the decisive goal.