Argentina 4, Venezuela 1 | Copa America Centenario Match Recap
The US national team now know their semifinals fate: A date with Leo Messi and Argentina.
Messi led Argentina to a quarterfinals victory over Venezuela on Saturday night, scoring a goal and assisting on two others in a convincing 4-1 triumph at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Argentina got off to a strong start in the game, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring twice inside of the first half hour to set the tone for the South American powerhouse.
Venezuela had a chance to trim the deficit when it was 2-0, but a poorly-taken penalty kick from Luis Sejias late in the first half went right into the arms of Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Messi netted the next goal to effectively put the game out of reach, and then set up an Erik Lamela strike in the 71st minute to cap the scoring. Venezuela's consolation came a minute earlier via Salomon Rondon.
With the win, Messi and the rest of the Argentines will face the US in the semifinals of the tournament on Tuesday at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
- 8' - ARG - Gonzalo Higuain (Leo Messi)
- 28' - ARG - Gonzalo Higuain
- 60' - ARG - Leo Messi (Nicolas Gaitan)
- 70' - VEN - Salomon Rondon (Alejandro Guerra)
- 71' - ARG - Erik Lamela (Leo Messi)
- Full box score
- KEEP ON ROLLING: Argentina entered the knockout stages as the only team to go a perfect 3-0 in its group, and it did not take long to see why. The talented Argentines were clearly the superior and more aggressive side from the onset, and Gonzalo Higuain's eighth-minute opener was a sign of what was to come for Venezuela. Argentina seemingly never took the foot off the pedal, too, as they finished with more than 63 percent in the possession battle and six shots on goal.
- MISSED OPPORTUNITY: As overwhelmed as Venezuela looked at times in the first half, they had a chance to gain some momentum just before the break. Unfortunately for the Venezuelans, Luis Sejias opted to try a panenka on his attempt from 12 yards out and goalkeeper Sergio Romero easily caught it to keep Argentina's healthy lead in tact.
- MORE MESSI MAGIC: In his first start of the tournament, Leo Messi continued to dazzle. Messi scored his tournament-high fourth goal of the Copa America Centenario at the hour-mark to tie Gabriel Batistuta for most in Argentina history (56), and also set up Higuain's opener and Lamela's strike in the 71st minute. Messi is in fine form right now, and it is going to take the US national team a whole lot to try and slow him down in their semifinals meeting.
- ARG: Tuesday, June 21 vs. US (9 pm ET, FS1, Univision, UDN)
- VEN: Eliminated from Copa America Centenario