Copa America 2016: Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain inspire Argentina to an easy 4-1 win over Venezuela
Argentina eased past Venezuela by 4 goals to 1 to book a place in the Copa America 2016 semi-finals, where they will be facing hosts USA. Goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Erik Lamela saw Argentina through while Salomon Rondon’s goal for Venezuela was nothing more than consolation.
Argentina started the game brightly with Lionel Messi dictating play and he was the providor in chief for the game’s first goal. His brilliant through-ball was finished magnificently by Higuain in the 8th minute leading to scenes of wild celebration among the Argentina fans.
HIguain also grabbed the second goal of the game in the 28th minute when he seized upon a dreadful back-pass by the Venezuelan defence to round goalkeeper Hernandez and slot the ball into an empty net.
The game looked all done and dusted but Venezuela did not sit back and caused plenty of problems for the Argentina defence. Sergio Romero had to be at his best to deny Venezuela a way back into the game but Venezuela were handed a huge lifeline when Romero brought down Martinez in the box and the referee awarded a penalty.
What followed next was scarcely believable as Seijas tried to be cheeky and went for a Panenka penalty but Romero just stood his spot and caught the ball leaving Seijas distraught. It was a huge let off for Argentina just before the half-time break.
Argentina did not need any second invitation to put the game to rest and Lionel Messi ensured Argentina’s progress to the semi-finals in the 60th minute after some good work by Nicolas Gaitan created a one on one opportunity for Messi who made no mistake. The Argentine maestro was in good form today and the goal was a just reward for his efforts.
Salomon Rondon scored a wonderful header in the 70th minute to make it 3-1 and hand a glimmer of hope to Venezuela but it was quelled almost immediately as Lionel Messi once again turned provider, feeding Lamela whose deflected shot somehow squirmed past Hernandez.
Argentina then knocked the ball about and created some chances with subsitute Sergio Aguero coming close a couple of times, but there was not any more change in the scoresheet as Argentina saw out the game comfortably to book their place in the semi-finals.
The only moment of concern for Tata Martino was when Gaitan came off clutching his hamstring. With Angel Di Maria injured, Lamela looks like the most likely candidate to replace Gaitan in the semi-finals against USA.