Copa America 2016: Ruthless Argentina starve Bolivia of the ball in 3-0 win
Argentina stormed to another victory in the Copa America 2016 with a routine yet ruthless 3-0 win over Bolivia. First half goals from Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Victor Cuesta. Bolivia put in a spirited performance throughout the game but ultimately proved to be nowhere close to the level Tata Martino's men were at.
The Argentina manager made quite a few changes to the squad with only Ever Banega, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Romero, Ramiro Funes Mori and Nicolas Otamendi the only starters from the previous game. Lamela, Lavezzi, Cuesta, Matías Kranevitter and Sergio Aguero were amongst those given the chance to start this game.
Bolivia, meanwhile, stuck to pretty much the same squad and proved that experience could help them fight taking on Argentina incredibly well. In the 13th minute, however, Bolivia suffered a hammer blow in luck when Lamela's free-kick hit the back of the net with the help of a massive deflection.
1-0 to Argentina and the game grew from there. Lamela and Lavezzi taunted the Bolivian defence throughout the first half almost single-handedly stretching and tearing the defence apart. Lavezzi then doubled the score when Higuain failed to get his shot at the back of the net, a deflection later Lavezzi smacked it in.
The Hebei China Fortune winger didn't stop there, however, providing the assist for Cuesta for Argentina's third goal where he ran across the Bolivian defence and crossed one in for the tall centre-back to poke into the back of the net.
Come the second half – and the introduction of Lionel Messi – Argentina looked a whole different animal. Even though Lamela and Lavezzi were on the pitch, their influence on the match reduced as the talismanic Barcelona star stole the spotlight with his quick feet and dribbling.
Though Argentina scored no goal in the second half, the influence and return of Messi was evident to see. He seemed to be back at his best but the further matches are where his national team will really need him.
Tata Martino's men had the chance to equal the record for most number of goals scored in the Copa America group stage but couldn't find a way to do so with Bolivia putting in an incredible shift at the back. Even though they conceded three goals, the contribution of their defence was immense.