Argentina defeats Bolivia in the Copa America, with Messi scoring twice.


Argentina’s Lionel Messi scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Bolivia at the Copa America on Monday, making it his 148th international appearance. MAGNO, Douglas AFP

Argentina beat Bolivia 4-1 to win Copa America Group A on Monday, with Lionel Messi scoring two goals in his record 148th international appearance.

Last week, Messi equaled Javier Mascherano’s Argentinian caps record of 147, and he celebrated his 148th appearance by setting up the first goal and scoring a brace himself.

Argentina will face Ecuador, the fourth-place finishers from Group B, in a quarter-final on Saturday at Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal stadium.

Bolivia, who had already been eliminated following three losses in their first three games, were completely overwhelmed by Argentina from the start.

After three minutes, the Argentines were on the verge of taking the lead, but Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe made a spectacular double save from Sergio Aguero and Angel Correa in short succession.

Argentina, on the other hand, did not have to wait long for the breakthrough, as Papu Gomez was set free by Messi’s exquisite chipped pass and volleyed past Lampe to score it 1-0 after six minutes.

On 33 minutes, Gomez was hauled down in the area by Bolivia’s Diego Bejarano, doubling Argentina’s lead.

Messi dutifully converted the penalty, putting Argentina solidly in command.

Soon after, Bolivia earned their first attempt on goal, with Jeyson Chura’s vicious long-range effort forcing Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani to make a full-stretch diving save.

Argentina reasserted their dominance, and Messi made it 3-0 by latching on to a wonderful lofted cross from new Barcelona teammate Sergio Aguero and launching a cheeky finish over Lampe.

In the 60th minute, Bolivia equalized after to a well-worked play that saw Chura’s deft back heel release Leonel Justiniano down the right side, who crossed for Erwin Saavedra to score.

Argentina, on the other hand, reacted quickly, with replacement Lautaro Martinez scoring from close range in the 65th minute, just two minutes after replacing Aguero.

In Monday’s other Group A match, Uruguay defeated Paraguay 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro to earn second place in the standings.

Uruguay will face Colombia in the quarter-finals on Saturday after Edinson Cavani’s first-half penalty kick proved decisive.

Paraguay came in third place and will face Peru on Friday. Chile, who finished fourth in Group A, will face Brazil on Friday in a difficult match.

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