Copa America Centenario quarter-finals
Argentina 4 – 1 Venezuela
Argentina will meet USA in the semi-finals as La Albiceleste beats Venezuela by 4 to 1.
Lionel Messi, who scored one goal and created two others in his first start of the tournament, equals the goal record set by Gabriel Batistuta. He also became the leading scorer with his fourth goal for Argentina in this event.
Finding Gonzalo Higuain with a long pass, the Napoli striker was able to make a clinical finish and Argentina is 1-0 up early.
Higuain scored again in the 28th to make it 2-0, exploiting a mistake by Venezuela midfielder Arquimedes Figuera and sidestepping Dani Hernandez before slotting home.
But despite all that, Venezuela did play well. Salomon Rondon slightly misses the mark with a header. Then their true pain in the game came as Argentina keeper Sergio Romero tripped Josef Martinez in the box.
One goal could have put them back in contention, but Luis Manuel Seijas committed the mistake of chipping the ball down the middle. Romero merely has to wait as the ball floated gently into his arms.
Messi then strengthened the Argentinan lead, running into a Nicolas Gaitan pass right outside the 6 yard box for a tap-in. Venezuela got their consolation from a Rondon header before Messi assists Erik Lamela for Argentina’s fourth.
“For us to be back in another semi-final of a big tournament like this one is a great achievement for these players,” Messi said after the match.
“I’m happy for what it means and it’s nice to be next to ‘Batigol’ (Batistuta),” he added about his new goal tally for Argentina. “But for me the most important thing is the result.”