Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to a commanding 3-0 win over Ecuador in their Copa America 2021 quarter-final clash earlier today.
La Albiceleste started brightly as Lionel Messi hit the post in the opening 25 minutes. The free-agent – which still sounds weird – should have scored in the 22nd minute, but made up for it with a delightful assist to find teammate Rodrigo De Paul in the penalty box.
De Paul made no mistake in giving Argentina the lead heading into halftime. Although Ecuador threatened to equalize in the second half, Lionel Messi once again created an opening for his side as his nicely weighted pass to find Lautaro Martinez saw the Inter Milan star score with six minutes left to play.
Ecuador were then reduced to 10 men as Piero Hincapie was sent off for a foul on Angel Di Maria. Messi took the resulting free-kick from the edge of the penalty box and it was too hot for goalkeeper Hernan Galindez.
Lionel Messi focused on doing well for Argentina despite personal accolades
Following his two assists and a goal against Ecuador, Lionel Messi is now ahead in both the goals and assists charts at Copa America 2021.
Despite his impressive display, Lionel Messi insisted that individual awards are secondary as the team's performance counts more.
"I always say it: individual [moments] are secondary, we are here for something else. I want to congratulate the group for the work they are doing - we have been away from our families for many days.
“It was a very difficult match, we knew about the difficulty of the opponent. It was hard fought until we got the goal, then it got more tangled. The important thing is that we took one more step.
“we tried to play, at times we couldn’t, the pitch didn’t help much. We played a very important match. One of our objectives was to be among the top four best teams. Now we have to rest because there is little time until our next game,” Messi said.
With the win, Argentina will next face Colombia in the semi-finals of Copa America 2021. Colombia overcame Uruguay on penalties in their quarter-final clash.
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