Messi leads Argentina into Copa America final

22 June,2016

RTNN Sports Desk: The five-time world player of the year set up Ezequiel Lavezzi`s opening goal in the third minute, then scored on a free kick to break Argentina`s career scoring record and assisted on the final goal in a 4-0 rout of the U.S. on Tuesday night that put the La Albiceleste into the Copa America final.


After Messi doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with his 55th international goal, his tournament-leading fifth, Gonzalo Higuain quickly ended U.S. comeback hopes when he put the rebound of his initial shot past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 50th. Higuain scored off a Messi pass in the 86th.


"We had far too much respect," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. Our players could just feel in every position on the field they were better than we are."


Argentina will seek its first major title since the 1993 Copa — and its first since Messi`s debut in 2005 — when it plays Chile or Colombia on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.


"That`s what we hope and what we want, to finally achieve that," Messi said. "We deserve it, for all the good work we`ve been doing all these years."


Argentina might be missing Lavezzi, who fell backward over an advertising sign board and appeared to land hard on his left arm at about the 60th minute. Lavezzi was able to get up several minutes later and left on a cart.


Hosting a special, expanded 16-nation edition of South America`s championship to celebrate Copa America`s 100th anniversary, the U.S. won a difficult group that included third-ranked Colombia and then beat No. 13 Ecuador in the quarterfinals. But top-ranked Argentina and Messi, who turns 29 Friday and is at the top of his game, outclassed the U.S. from the opening whistle and stunned the sellout crowd of 70,858 at NRG Stadium.

 

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