Messi scores in Argentina’s win; Chile routs Mexico 7-0
SANTA CLARA (Calif)—Lionel Messi made his first start of the Copa America tournament and tied a national record with his 54th international goal as Argentina defeated Venezuela 4-1 on Saturday to set up a semifinal match against the United States.
In Saturday’s other quarterfinal, Eduardo Vargas scored a career-high four goals and Edson Puch added two as Chile, the defending Copa America champions, routed Mexico 7-0.
Messi’s goal in the 60th minute gave Argentina a 3-0 lead and equaled the Argentine record for most international goals set by Gabriel Batistuta, according to Argentina’s governing body. The Barcelona star also took over the Copa America scoring lead with his fourth goal of the tournament.
Argentina now has two days to rest before playing the U.S. in Houston on Tuesday. The Americans have been off since beating Ecuador on Thursday.
With many in the Foxborough, Massachusetts, stadium wearing No. 10 from Messi’s national team and La Liga jerseys, the five-time FIFA Player of the Year started the game after playing a total of just 74 minutes in the three group stage matches.
Just eight minutes in, he connected with Gonzalo Higuain on a long entry pass to make it 1-0.
“He knows that he’s a game-changing player,” Argentina coach Geraldo Martino said. “Everybody’s trying to cancel him. But he knows when to play one against one. He knows when to pass the ball to other players.”
Higuain scored again in the 28th to make it 2-0. Messi then padded the lead in the 60th after taking a pass from Nicolas Gaitan just outside the 6-meter box.
Venezuela finally beat Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 70th minute when Salomon Rondon headed the ball in, nicking the post on the way. But Erik Lamela scored a minute later to make it 4-1.
Argentina is 6-2-2 against the U.S., with the teams last playing to a 1-1 draw in a 2011 friendly in New Jersey. The last American win was in a 1999 friendly.—AFP
Argentina’s Lionel Messi scores a goal against Venezuela’s Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Dani Hernandez during the Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match in Foxborough, Mass.