Friday, 17 September, 2021
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Messi double leads Argentina to trounce Bolivia

Messi double leads Argentina to trounce Bolivia
Argentina skipper Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a penalty against Bolivia at Arena Pantanal Stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil on Monday. — AFP photo

Lionel Messi celebrated his record 148th international cap with two goals as Argentina trounced Bolivia 4-1 to clinch top spot in Copa America Group A on Monday.

Messi -- who had equalled Javier Mascherano's Argentinian caps record of 147 last week -- marked his 148th appearance in style, setting up the opening goal before bagging a brace of his own.

The Argentines almost took the lead after three minutes, only for Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe to pull off a remarkable double save from Sergio Aguero and Angel Correa in quick succession.

But Argentina did not have to wait long for the breakthrough, when Messi's delightful chipped pass released Papu Gomez who volleyed past Lampe to make it 1-0 after six minutes.

Argentina doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Gomez was brought down in the area by Bolivia's Diego Bejarano. Messi duly stepped up to convert the penalty to put Argentina firmly in control.

Argentina reasserted their dominance and it was Messi who made it 3-0, latching on to a clever lofted pass from new Barcelona team-mate Aguero and lobbing a cheeky finish over the advancing Lampe.

Bolivia pulled a goal back in the 60th minute with a cleverly worked move, Chura's deft back heel releasing Leonel Justiniano down the right flanke who crossed for Erwin Saavedra to score.

Argentina responded swiftly though, substitute Lautaro Martinez tapping in from close range in the 65th minute just two minutes after coming on for Aguero.

In Monday's other Group A game, Uruguay clinched second place in the table after downing Paraguay 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro.