Lionel Messi scores at packed GEHA at Arrowhead as Inter Miami edges Sporting KC

More than 72,000 people filled GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night to see a show.

They got one and then some, with global soccer icon Lionel Messi and his star-studded Inter Miami beating host Sporting Kansas City 3-2.

Messi had a goal and an assist, firing a stunning strike from distance that sent the expectant crowd wild.

Erik Thommy responded with two goals for Sporting KC, but Miami’s Luis Suarez tapped home a third and deciding goal for the visitors.

The announced attendance of 72,610 broke all-time attendance records for a soccer game in Kansas City and the state of Missouri. While it was certainly a pro-Sporting crowd, Messi’s greatness was undeniable.

Every touch he had with the ball, the stadium bristled in anticipation. It was like a gravitational pull, bringing fans to the edge of their seats in hopes of seeing the greatness that could come in an instant.

Thommy got the home crowd rocking early, depositing a shot into the far corner just six minutes in. KC defender Tim Tim Leibold started the break by earning a turnover in the midfield.

But a little over 10 minutes later, Messi created a moment of magic for Miami, threading a perfect pass to Diego Gomez, who put a powerful and low shot past Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Messi’s brilliance was in full view in the 51st minute, when he fired a long-range strike past Melia to give Miami a 2-1 lead.

Thommy responded with an equally impressive volley to make it 2-2 just seven minutes later. But in the 71st minute, Miami took the lead for a final time.

Gomez dispossessed Sporting KC’s Jake Davis, who struggled to reign in Melia’s off-target pass out of the back. Gomez then placed a perfect pass to a wide-open Suarez for a tap-in goal at the far post.

Sporting KC captain Johnny Russell returned from injury for the final eight minutes, plus stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough. Sporting KC (2-2-4) has now failed to win after taking the lead in four of five home matches this season.

The club’s attention will remain focused on I-70 this week. On Saturday, Sporting KC welcomes St. Louis City SC back to Children’s Mercy Park for the first time since Kansas City’s upset of the top seeds in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Saturday’s match is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. Central Time.