MNA Sports Desk: Messi makes Argentina fly into the Copa America final. Lionel Messi recorded his 55th international goal to be counted his country’s all-time leading scorer as Argentina thrashed hosts the United States 4-0 to comfort into the final of the Centenary Copa America on Tuesday.
“We got outplayed badly by a very good team,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. “Today is a good day to judge where we are in program overall. We’re obviously a long way off.”
Messi glanced the ball over the defense to an open Lavezzi for the opener, and then doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with his 55th internatigoalonal goal, his tournament-leading fifth. Higuain added goals in the 50th and 86th minutes, the latter off Messi’s pass.
“I am happy to have surpassed Batistuta’s record and I want to thank my team mates, it’s theirs as well,” Messi told reporters.
“We deserve it, for all the good work we’ve been doing all these years,” Messi also said.
“Once we were 1-nil down, we had far too much respect,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “After that early goal, I think just that our players could feel that they are just probably in every position on the field just better than we are.”
“We needed to get back in a final but we can never get ahead of ourselves. We are pleased with our general production (so far). We’ve always taken it one game at a time.” Argentine coach Gerardo Martino said.
The victory, in the meantime, advanced Argentina into Sunday’s final against either Colombia or reigning champions Chile, who meet in Chicago on Wednesday.
Argentina controlled the first half and Messi’s goal was just recompensed for their dominance but if the home side thought they could phase a second-half fight back, they were discontentedly mistaken.
Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. coach, made two changes at the break but Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain scored a third goal four minutes into the second period when he beat Guzan at the second time of asking after the keeper had saved his initial shot.
The U.S. appreciated more ownership as the match improved but never achieved a shot on goal for the whole match as Argentina uncovered the gulf in class between the very best South American and North American sides.