CORDOBA - Lionel Messi at last came into
his own at the Copa America as Argentina beat a defensive Costa
Rica 3-0 with two goals from Sergio Aguero to secure second
place in Group A on Monday.
Argentina will move to Santa Fe for a quarter-final on
Saturday against the second-placed team in Group C, while group
winners Colombia's last-eight match is in Cordoba with the best
third-placed team from the three groups.
Messi was supreme laying on chances for the forwards and
Argentina should have doubled their tally against a raw, mainly
under-23 Costa Rica side that was drafted into the tournament at
the last minute after Japan pulled out.
"We needed to regain security as a team, with the ball...
Lionel knows how to overcome these situations and today he
showed that on the pitch with a tremendous match, fantastic,"
coach Sergio Batista told a news conference.
Aguero put Argentina ahead with the last kick of the first
half, taking advantage of a deflection from a shot by Fernando
Gago to bury the loose ball when the packed Costa Rica defence
tried to clear a dangerous move in their box.
The striker also hit the second eight minutes into the
second half after being put away by Messi on the left to become
the tournament's top scorer with a tally of three.
"The truth is this victory means a lot. It was a final
because it was our qualification and we did it," an elated
Aguero told a television reporter on the pitch of the Mario
Alberto Kempes stadium packed by more than 50,000 fans.
BRILLIANT THIRD GOAL
Messi, finding more space once Argentina were ahead, laid on
a string of perfect balls to the strikers, his combination with
Angel Di Maria perfect as the midfielder came in from the left
to fire the third goal into the roof of the net in the 64th.
"The other two matches were very hard and we couldn't
display our game but today the lads had a lot of confidence,"
Batista said following a 1-1 draw against Bolivia and a goalless
stalemate with Colombia.
Argentina were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty just past
the hour when Gonzalo Higuain was pulled back but the striker
was also guilty of several missed chances.
Central defender Nicolas Burdisso had a header from a corner
come off the angle of bar and post in the first half.
The only difficult ball Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero
had to deal with was a header from an 89th-minute corner that he
dived to punch away.
Costa Rica seldom managed to venture into Argentina's half
and only came marginally close to a chance in the first half
with a shot from outside the box by shaven-headed midfielder
Heiner Mora that went just over the bar.
Now the Costa Ricans must wait to see if they squeeze into
the last eight as one of the two best third-placed teams.
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010