Copa America 2021: Argentina beat Bolivia to go through to quarterfinals as group winners

Lionel Messi scored a brace and set up Alejandro Gomez at Cuiaba; Uruguay beat Paraguay 1-0 courtesy of Edinson Cavani's goal.

Argentina beat Bolivia in the final group game of Copa America 2021; Credit: Twitter/@Argentina

Argentina thrashed Bolivia 4-1 at Arena Pantanal to go through to the quarterfinals of Copa America 2021 as Group A winners. Argentina captain Lionel Messi scored a brace and set up one for Alejandro Gomez. Although Erwin Saavendra pulled one back for Bolivia, in the end it proved to be just a consolation goal. Substitute Lautaro Martinez completed the win with the fourth goal on the night. In the other match of the day Uruguay beat Paraguay 1-0. Thus, they follow Argentina into the quarters as runners-up from the group.

Lionel Scaloni’s side started the game brightly and forced two quick saves from Bolivia’s Carlos Lampe in the 3rd minute. Sergio Aguero and Angel Correa both shot following Gomez’s low cross from the left. Three minutes later, Messi received the ball from Correa on the edge of the penalty area. He delivered a beautiful lobbed pass through the Bolivian defence into the path of Gomez. The 33-year-old midfielder smashed the ball past Lampe with his first time attempt to make the score 1-0 for Argentina.

Messi’s brace

Few minutes after the half-hour mark Gomez was again involved, this time he was fouled by Diego Bejarano inside the penalty box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Six time Ballon d’or winner Messi stepped up and converted the spot kick to make the score 2-0. It was his 74th international goal.

Three minutes before the interval, Aguero released Messi with a brilliant lofted ball over the Bolivian defence. The 34-year-old striker’s first time lobbed finish over the advancing goalkeeper made the score 3-0. It was his third goal of the competition and he is now top of the goal scorers list.

After the restart, Bolivia pulled one back through Erwin Saavedra on the hour-mark. It was a well worked team goal. Jeyson Chura’s deft back-heel released Lionel Justiniano down the right flank and his low cross was slotted in by Saavedra. Just when Bolivia looked positive, substitute Lautaro Martinez scored the fourth goal for Argentina.

Messi released Acuna down the left side. The Sevilla man’s low cross fell to Martinez in front of goal after a goalmouth scramble. The Inter Milan striker calmly scored his first of the night. Few minutes later the 23-year-old forward forced two quick saves out of Lampe. 

Messi’s low free-kick was brilliantly kept out by the keeper in the 76th minute. Meanwhile Lampe again made a decent save at the near post to deny the Barcelona legend a hattrick on his 148th international appearance. Messi is now the most capped player for Argentina.

Copa America 2021 quarters line up complete

Scaloni’s side are on a run of 17 matches unbeaten and a victory in the quarter-final match against Ecuador will level them with Marcelo Bielsa’s record of 18. La Albiceleste collected 10 points with three wins and a draw at the end of group stage.

At Rio de Janeiro Edinson Cavani’s first half goal from the penalty spot was enough to get the better of Paraguay. La Celeste will face Colombia in the quarter-final on Saturday whereas third placed Paraguay will take on Peru on Friday. Meanwhile, Chile who finished fourth in Group A have a daunting task in hand as they play Brazil on the same day.

Sportslumo Desk

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