Copa America: Messi Shines as Argentina Beats Bolivia 4-1
Lionel Messi passed Javier Mascherano as Argentina’s most capped international and scored twice as they beat Bolivia 4-1 to set up a Copa America quarter-final clash 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.
Barcelona forward Messi doubled the lead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark to score his 74th goal for Argentina.
Messi made the scoreline 3-0 shortly before halftime when he ran on to a through ball from Sergio Aguero and lobbed Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe, scoring his 75th for Argentina.
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 nearly scored a hat-trick, but Bolivia goalkeeper Lampe made another excellent save to deny the Argentine. However, the match ended 4-1 to Messi’s Argentina.
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.
“We’re in good form going into the quarter-finals,” said Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso, who came on in the second half.
“The team knows how it is playing and what it wants to do. We’re getting better and now comes the most beautiful part.”
The result means Argentina will face Ecuador in the last eight on Saturday while Uruguay, who beat Paraguay 1-0, will play Colombia the same day.
Host nation Brazil will take on Chile in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, while Paraguay play Peru the same day.
Copa America results
Bolivia 1-4 Argentina
Uruguay 1-0 Paraguay