Copa America 2021: Argentina through to last four courtesy of Messi's goal and assists

Lionel Messi scored a sublime free-kick goal in Argentina's 3-0 quarter-final win over Ecuador whereas Colombia beat beat Uruguay.

Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 to go through to the semi-finals of Copa America 2021; Credit: Twitter/@CopaAmerica

Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 in Goiania courtesy of a masterclass performance from Lionel Messi to go through to the semi-finals of Copa America 2021. Messi scored a sublime free-kick goal and set up one each for Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez. La Albiceleste came into the quarterfinal match on the back of 17 games unbeaten whereas Ecuador were winless in their last six matches. In the other quarter-final fixture of the day Colombia got the better of Uruguay.

In the early stages of the game, Martinez and German Pezzella missed opportunities from inside the penalty box. Messi’s attempt hit the hand of Ecuador defender and fell to Martinez, but the Inter Milan striker’s shot missed the target and instead earned a corner.The corner from right wing was sent in by Messi, Pezzella controlled the ball on his chest but his half volley went agonisingly wide.

After the 20th minute mark, Messi found himself in a one-on-one situation with the Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez after a careless back pass. However, to the surprise of everyone the Barcelona legend’s shot hit the post.

Messi Masterclass

But the 34-year-old, five minutes from break, provided the assist for Argentina’s first goal of the night. Messi released Nicolas Gonzalez with a through ball and the goalkeeper came charging out to put in a sliding tackle just outside the penalty area. However the ball fell to Messi and he laid the ball to De Paul inside the box. The Udinese midfielder calmly controlled the ball and scored his first international goal in 25 appearances. 

Five minutes from time, Martinez scored Argentina’s second of the night from Messi’s fourth assist of the campaign. Ecuador defender Piero Hincapie lost the ball because of pressure put in by substitute Angel Di Maria. And Messi stole the ball and nicely laid the ball to Martinez inside the penalty box. The 23-year-old forward fired the ball past the keeper to double the lead. 

On the stroke of time, referee Wilton Sampaio awarded a free-kick to Argentina for Hincapie’s foul on Di Maria. Although initially the referee pointed to the penalty spot and showed a yellow card but after VAR intervention the defender was shown a red card and free-kick was awarded on the edge of the box. Messi stepped up and scored his second free-kick goal of the tournament with a precise and powerful kick. It was Argentina captain’s 76th international goal.

Meanwhile Colombia, in the other match of the day, edged past Uruguay on penalties. The game finished goalless in regular time. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina denied Jose Gimenez and Matias Vina from the spot to take Reinaldo Rueda’s side to the last-4. Lionel Scaloni’s side will play Colombia on July 5 for a place in the final.

Sportslumo Desk

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