Argentina finished as Group A toppers in the Copa America after a commanding 4-1 win over Bolivia in their final group stage fixture. Lionel Messi scored twice and is now the top scorer in the competition with three goals.
The win helped La Albicelesete set up a meeting with winless Ecuador in the quarterfinals on Saturday (July 3). Given their current form, they will look to secure a safe passage to the semifinals.
¡LA ALBICELESTE, PRIMERA DEL GRUPO A!— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 29, 2021
🇦🇷 @Argentina goleó a 🇧🇴 @laverde_fbf por 4-1 y se aseguró el primer puesto de su zona en la CONMEBOL #CopaAmérica.
🔜¿Su rival en cuartos de final? 🇪🇨 @LaTri
🗒️ ESP https://t.co/XdpU4bpZFq
🗒️ PT https://t.co/uB1Ozs89ln#VibraElContinente pic.twitter.com/BNTZ9qKSrO
Argentina had a bright start to the game and tested Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe in the third minute itself. Lampe had to make two saves to deny Angel Correa and Sergio Aguero in quick succession.
Just three minutes later, following a great attacking move, Messi’s lobbed pass found Alejandro Gomez in the box. Gomez gave Argentina the lead with a thumping volley.
The Sevilla star was then fouled in the 31st minute in the box and earned a penalty for Messi. The Barcelona star coolly slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner to make it 2-0.
Argentina played their best football so far in the 2021 Copa America and created plenty of chances. In the 42nd minute, Messi timed his run perfectly to meet Aguero’s dinked pass to run beyond the Bolivia defence. He produced a first-time lobbed finish from the edge of the box to beat Lampe and score his second goal of the game.
With a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break, Argentina were in complete control of the game. The second half was sluggish at the start but in the 60th minute, Bolivia pulled a goal back. A good team move saw Erwin Saavedra take advantage of Lisandro Martinez’s poor positioning to net for his side.
Lautaro Martinez replaced Aguero in the 63rd minute and just two minutes later was able to find the back of the net from a couple of yards out. His goal restored the three-goal advantage, which Argentina did not relinquish
As Lionel Messi & Co. conclude their group stage campaign in style, here we take a look at the five talking points from the game.
#5 Argentina remain unbeaten in the Copa America
Argentina finished the Copa America group stage campaign with 10 points, after a draw in the opening fixture and three straight wins. Only Brazil had the same number of points as them in the Group stage.
They improved a little bit in every game and recorded a dominant win in the final game before the knockout stages. This win ensured that Argentina remained undefeated in the competition and also extended their unbeaten run under manager Lionel Scaloni to 17 games.
17 – Lionel Scaloni hasn't lost in the last 17 games (W10 D7), the joint-third longest unbeaten sequence of a coach in the history of Argentina National Team, alongside Guillermo Stábile. Unbeatable. https://t.co/FsA8pMFsvM— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) June 29, 2021
Scaloni only needs to avoid one more loss to equal Marcelo Bielsa’s record of 18 games unbeaten. However, he still has a long way to go to reach the record of 31 games.
#4 Argentina make a habit of scoring early goals
In football, scoring an early goal is one of the best ways to take control of a game. An early lead forces the opponents to work harder to restore parity, which the team with the advantage can exploit on the counter-attack.
Argentina have scored seven goals in the tournament so far and four of them have been scored before the 35th minute. As a matter of fact, they had not scored a single goal in the second half of matches before this game.
Their tactics have been clear and effective: to score an early goal and then defend the lead. Scaloni will hope the same strategy works in the crucial knockout stage fixtures as well.