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More Messi magic sends Argentina into Copa semis

Lionel Messi scored a free-kick and served up two assists as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 on Saturday to set themselves up for a Copa America semi-final against Colombia.

Messi missed a golden chance in the first half, but set up Rodrigo De Paul five minutes before half-time and then did the same for Lautaro Martinez five minutes from the end to give Argentina a deserved victory.

The Barcelona player then got his second free-kick of the tournament in stoppage time to round out a scoreline that was more convincing than the performance.

It was his 76th goal for Argentina, taking him to within one of Pele’s South American record.

“I’ve always said that individual prizes are secondary, we’re here for something else,” Messi said. “We have an objective and we’re focused on that.”

“It was a hard match, we know how difficult an opponent they can be. The important thing is we’ve taken another step forward.”

Lautaro Martinez scores for Argentina
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Lautaro Martinez scores for Argentina

Argentina were unbeaten in 17 games coming into the game and they should have put the result beyond doubt earlier than they did.

Martinez and German Pezzella both came close in the opening 20 minutes and Hernan Galindez made one superb double save from Nicolas Gonzalez with the score at 1-0.

More surprisingly, Messi missed the best chance of the game when he was through on the ‘keeper, but saw his shot come back off the post.

However, the striker made up for it five minutes before half-time when, with the Ecuadoran goalkeeper stranded after making a tackle outside the box, he fed De Paul, who stroked the ball into the net for his first international goal in 25 appearances.

Messi then set up Martinez to finish clinically five minutes from the end, before stepping up himself to curl home a free-kick in stoppage time, after Piero Hincapie hauled down Angel Di Maria and was shown a red card.

Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi celebrate after scoring
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Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi celebrate after scoring

Underdogs Ecuador came into the match without a win in their last six games but they had chances to score against a team seeking their first Copa America triumph since 1993.

Enner Valencia in particular will be angry at himself for sending two glancing headers wide from close in during the first 45 minutes.

The result means Argentina will face Colombia, who overcame Uruguay on penalties earlier in the day, in the second Copa America semi-final on Tuesday. Brazil play Peru in the first semi-final 24 hours before.

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Copa America: Messi stars for Argentina, Uruguay edge Paraguay

Lionel Messi passed Javier Mascherano as Argentina’s most capped international on Monday and scored twice as they beat Bolivia 4-1 to set up a Copa America quarter-final against Ecuador.

Messi was in fine form on his 148th appearance for Argentina and it was his sublime pass that set up Alejandro Gomez to volley home the opening goal after five minutes in Cuiaba.

Barcelona forward Messi doubled their lead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark and then made it 3-0 shortly before half-time when he ran on to a through ball from Sergio Aguero and lobbed Carlos Lampe.

Bolivia, who had lost their previous 11 Copa America matches, made life more difficult for themselves by repeatedly giving up possession in their own half.

However, they improved after the break and surprised Argentina on the hour when Erwin Saavedra swept home a cross from the right to make it 3-1.

Their slight hopes of a comeback were extinguished within five minutes as substitute Lautaro Martinez restored Argentina’s three-goal advantage within seconds of replacing Sergio Aguero.

Messi’s goals were his 74th and 75th for the national side and it could have been more but for another excellent performance by Lampe in the Bolivian goal.

The win extended Argentina’s unbeaten streak to 17 games, a run that goes back to the last Copa America when they lost to Brazil in the semi-finals. The result means Argentina will face Ecuador in Goiania in the last eight on Saturday.

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani, right, scores from the penalty spot against Paraguay during a Copa America soccer match at Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
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Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani (right) scores from the penalty spot against Paraguay

In the other Group A fixture, an Edinson Cavani penalty sealed a 1-0 win for Uruguay against neighbours Paraguay, setting up a quarter-final tie against Colombia.

Despite the narrow scoreline, it was a dominant performance from Uruguay, who had the vast majority of chances but struggled to break down Paraguay’s stubborn defence in the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The best early chances fell to Giorgian de Arrascaeta, before Nahitan Nndez was bundled over in the box for an 18th minute penalty, dispatched by Cavani.

Uruguay will play Colombia in Brasilia in the last eight on Saturday. Host nation Brazil will take on Chile in Rio on Friday, while Paraguay play Peru in Goiania the same day.

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Argentina into quarters with Paraguay win

Argentina ensured their place in the Copa America quarter-finals on Monday when they beat Paraguay 1-0 as Lionel Messi made a record-equalling 147th appearance for the national side.

The victory in Brasilia was Argentina’s second 1-0 win in a row in this tournament and their 16th match without defeat since losing in the Copa America semi-final in 2019.

It gives them seven points from three games and leaves them top of Group A, two points ahead of Chile, four ahead of Paraguay and six ahead of Uruguay.

Bolivia are bottom with no points from two matches, so with four of the five teams qualifying for the last eight, Argentina are sure of progressing.

Paraguay had never beaten Argentina over 90 minutes in the Copa America, a run that covers 25 matches, and they were up against it as early as the 10th minute when Argentina went ahead.

Alejandro Gomez took a delightful pass from Angel Di Maria and dinked the ball over the diving keeper.

Argentina thought they had a second when Junior Alonso deflected a cross into his own net on the stroke of half-time but the goal was chalked off by VAR.

Paraguay came out more positive in the second half, with Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron always dangerous on the left wing.

However, Paraguay could not turn their lion’s share of possession into chances and now face two tricky games against Chile and Uruguay.

For Argentina, Sergio Aguero made his first international start since November 2019 but was anonymous up front and it was Di Maria and Messi who stood out – with the latter equalling Javier Mascherano’s record of 147 games in the blue and white shirt.

Arturo Vidal put through his own net to give Uruguay their first goal in five games and grant them a point in a gripping 1-1 Copa America encounter with Chile.

Eduardo Vargas put Chile ahead in the 26th minute with a fierce angled drive but Luis Suarez pounced on a knockdown midway through the second half to pressure Vidal into scoring an own goal.

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Argentina narrowly beat Uruguay | Brereton is Chile’s hero

A first-half goal from Guido Rodriguez gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Uruguay in a leaden Copa America clash on Friday.

Uruguay hadn’t beaten Argentina in the Copa America since 1989 and they went behind early on to Rodriguez’s header.

The Real Betis midfielder was given a starting berth for the first time since June 2019 and he justified that decision when he converted a cross from Lionel Messi after 10 minutes.

The goal gave Argentina all three points and condemned their neighbours to a losing start to their Copa America campaign.

The result in a game that was both end-to-end but lacking in real excitement at a cavernously empty stadium in Brasilia leaves Uruguay joint bottom of Group A with no points, alongside Bolivia, who have played two and lost two.

Argentina move into joint top spot with four points alongside Chile, who beat Bolivia 1-0 earlier on Friday. Paraguay have three points from one game.

Striker Edinson Cavani was back for Uruguay after missing the last two games through suspension and he produced one of the few memorable moments for his side when he was unfortunate to see a loud shout for a penalty waved away in 26 minutes.

It was indicative of Uruguay’s unhappy night that although they had slightly more of the possession they never managed a shot on goal the entire match.

At the other end, Messi caused problems for Uruguay with his mazy runs in the final third but he was frequently crowded out by Uruguayan defenders.

The result extended Argentina’s unbeaten run to 15 games since they lost in the semi-final of the last Copa America in 2019.

Their next game is against Paraguay on Monday, while Uruguay take on Chile the same day.

Brereton the hero for Chile

English-born Ben Brereton scored Chile's winner against Bolivia
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English-born Ben Brereton scored Chile’s winner against Bolivia

A goal on his full debut from English-born striker Ben Brereton gave Chile a 1-0 win over Bolivia in their Copa America clash earlier on Friday.

The Blackburn Rovers man made his debut for the country of his mother’s birth at the end of Monday’s 1-1 draw with Argentina, and he made an immediate impact on his first start in Cuiaba.

The big striker gave Chile the perfect start after 10 minutes when he got on the end of a counter attack and coolly slotted the ball home from 15 yards out.

Brereton also forced Bolivian goalkeeper Carlos Lampe into two other good saves in the first half and was a handful for the Bolivian defence before being substituted in the 83rd minute.

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Can Argentina end their tournament drought and bring the Copa America cup back home?

The Argentina national team hasn’t won a major tournament in 28 years, the fans and the national squad are eager to claim a trophy and to end this drought. Lionel Scaloni’s team will be determined to win and strive for the continents most awaited trophy.  The manager of La Albiceleste has unveiled the roaster of players who will attempt to bring Copa America trophy to their lands.

The chances of Argentina winning Copa America and lifting the trophy are 3/1. You can bet outright or place individual bets on the national team via online sport bookies like these, the bookies showcased on the website offer exclusive bonuses, cashback percentages and generous odds.

 

Argentina Copa America Squad

Lionel Sebastián Scaloni named a strong 24-man squad which allows fans another chance to dream of a front three of Angel Di Maria, Lautero Martinez and Messi.

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani, Emiliano Martinez, Juan Musso and Agustin Marchesin

Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Marcos Acuna, Lisandro Martinez, Nahuel Molina Lucero and Cristian Romero

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, Exequiel Palacios, Nicolas Gonzalez, Guido Rodriguez, Rodrigo De Paul, Alejandro Gomez, Angel Correa and Nicolas Dominguez

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria, Joaquin Correa, Sergio Aguero and Julian Alvarez

 

The 2021 Copa America will be Lionel Scaloni’s second attempt in the tournament. The former manager Jorge Sampaoli led the Argentina team to a third-place finish in 2019.

Argentina has had a difficult time transitioning to a new generation of players, but they appear to be on the right track. La Albiceleste will face Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia in Group A of the Copa America 2021.

Argentina have already played Chile, Lionel Messi scored a spectacular free kick, dribbled his way through the Chilean defence, and consistently created chances for his Argentina teammates. The result wasn’t as expected for Lionel Scaloni’s team, the team was held in a 1-1 draw against the side. Despite this result, the game at Rio de Janeiro’s Nilton Santos stadium included a memorial to Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who died in November at the age of 60.

During the Copa America 2021 tournament, Lionel Messi will turn 34. This may be his final chance to win a trophy for Argentina. Despite all of his individual achievements and club trophies with Barcelona, he remarked before the start of Copa America 2021 that winning with his national team is the biggest ambition of his incredible career.