Argentina 3-0 Ecuador: Lionel Messi scores impressive free-kick

Argentina 3-0 Ecuador: Lionel Messi scores impressive free-kick and sets up goals for Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez as Argentina progress to Copa America semi-finals with Ecuador’s Piero Hincapie sent off late on

  • Lionel Messi scored a superb free-kick to help Argentina overcome Ecuador 3-0 
  • In addition, Messi provided assists for Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez 
  • Ecuador were reduced to ten men when Piero Hincapie was sent off late on
  • Argentina’s victory means that they will face Colombia in the semi-finals 

Lionel Messi scored a free kick and served up two assists as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 on Saturday to set themselves up for a Copa America semi-final against Colombia.

Messi missed a golden chance in the first half but set up Rodrigo De Paul five minutes before half-time and then did the same for Lautaro Martinez five minutes from the end to give Argentina a deserved victory.

The Barcelona player then got his second free kick off the tournament in stoppage time to round out a scoreline that was more convincing than the performance.

Lionel Messi scored a superb free-kick and set up two goals as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0

Messi dispatched the free-kick excellently to help Argentina progress at the Copa America

Messi was the provider for Lautaro Martinez’s goal as Argentina continued to make progress

It was his 76th goal for Argentina, taking him to within one of Pele’s South American record.

‘I’ve always said that individual prizes are secondary, we’re here for something else,’ Messi said. ‘We have an objective and we’re focused on that.’

‘It was a hard match, we know how difficult an opponent they can be. The important thing is we’ve taken another step forward.’

Argentina were unbeaten in 17 games coming into the game and they should have put the result beyond doubt earlier than they did.

MATCH FACTS 

Argentina: E Martinez; Molina, Pezzella, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Paredes (Rodriguez 71), Lo Celso (Di Maria 71); Messi, L Martinez (Aguero 90), Gonzalez (Tagliafico 83)

Subs: Armani, Gomez, Marchesin, Leandro Martinez, Correa, Montiel, Palacios, Correa

Goals: De Paul 40, L Martinez 84, Messi 90

Booked: Otamendi, Gonzalez 

Ecuador: Galindez; Preciado (Campana 83), Arboleda, Hincapie, Estupinan; Franco (Caicedo 70), Gruezo (Estrada 46), Mendez; Mena, Valencia, Palacios (Plata 46)

Subs: Ortiz, Pineida, Hurtado, Dominguez, Torres, Martinez, Arreaga, Noboa 

Booked: Estupinan, Preciado, Franco

Sent off: Hincapie 

Rodrigo De Paul also scored for Argentina, who will take on Colombia in the semi-finals

Messi is congratulated by his jubilant Argentina team-mates after putting his team 3-0 up

Ecuador’s misery was compounded when Piero Hincapie was sent off in the closing stages

Martinez and German Pezzella both came close in the opening 20 minutes and Hernan Galindez made one superb double save from Nicolas Gonzalez with the score at 1-0.

More surprisingly, Messi missed the best chance of the game when he was through on the keeper but saw his shot come back off the post.

However, the diminutive striker made up for it five minutes before half-time when, with the Ecuadoran goalkeeper stranded after making a tackle outside the box, he fed De Paul, who stroked the ball into the net for his first international goal in 25 appearances.

Messi then set up Martinez to finish clinically five minutes from the end, before stepping up himself to curl home a free kick in stoppage time, after Piero Hincapie hauled down Angel Di Maria and was shown a red card.

Underdogs Ecuador came into the match without a win in their last six games but they had chances to score against a team seeking their first Copa America triumph since 1993.

Enner Valencia in particular will be angry at himself for sending two glancing headers wide from close in during the first 45 minutes.

The result means Argentina will face Colombia, who overcame Uruguay on penalties earlier in the day, in the second Copa America semi-final on Tuesday.

Brazil play Peru in the first semi-final 24 hours before.




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