Messi hat trick leads Argentina to the Copa quarters

IMAGE, FCBARCELONA.COM

by DAVE MARTINEZ

He isn’t the best in the world for nothing.

Making his first appearance of the tournament, Leonel Messi came off the bench in the 61′ minute of a 1-0 match against Panama and struck three times to lead Argentina to a 5-0 victory.

The win clinches Argentina’s spot in the knockout rounds.

A booming header by Nicolas Otamendi in the seventh minute put Argentina ahead. Angel Di Maria picked out the defender on a free kick to put his side ahead.

Chippy play from Los Canaleros cost them as Panama went down a man after San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Animal Godoy picked up his second yellow card in under 31 minutes of play. Despite the advantage and a dominant showing by the Albiceleste, Argentina’s fortunes did not change until Messi made his way into the match.

Just seven minutes into his shift, an errant clearance landed at the feet of Messi who beat keeper Jaime Peneda short-side for the 2-0 lead. Messi doubled his goal total ten minutes later, beating Peneda on a free kick, once again to the near post. His final goal came in the 87th minute, shaking off two defenders and beating Peneda to the left of goal to make it 4-0. Aguero added a headed goal in added time.

The game did not come without a cost. Angel Di Maria was forced out of the match due to injury. His status is unknown.

Argentina is all but guaranteed the top spot in Group D. Chile would have to win by seven and Argentina would have to lose against Bolivia next week in order for the Albiceleste to lose their grip at the top of the group table. Chile face Panama and Argentina take on Bolivia in the final round of group action on June 14.

  • The rock

    I would love to see cr7 and messi in mls, one in Miami n another in LA.
    There’s also ny but red bull don’t spend n nycfc is more British.

    • Ace Face

      Now, again, using a “noun-verb-noun” sentence structure, what exactly are you trying to say here?

      • The rock

        r u a linguistics expert :)
        Every language has a structure and As long as u get what I’m saying it’s all good.
        Take a linguistic course n u will see what I mean.

        • Joe Strupp

          I’m with Ace. You write like a ransom note.

  • Don Garber

    Messi in an average player in MLS

  • Daddy yankee

    Messi in Miami and cr7 in Los Angeles it has to be a reality in MLS

  • Sunil

    Where are all the U S and A fans tonight ?
    Philly stadium is empty