The Messi magic was on full display Tuesday in the COPA Centenario semi-final match between the USA and Argentina as La Albicelestes swept by the Americans 4-0. In the first 32 minutes, Messi delivered with an assist in the third minute and then the goal that puts him at the top of the all-time Argentinian scoring list just past the half hour mark.
With a clinic like performance of soccer prowess, the number one ranked FIFA team in the world left little doubt as to who were pretenders and who were contenders. It was almost as Jurgen Klinsman knew this was coming when earlier in the week he remarked that elite teams will some times teach you a lesson. On Tuesday from the opening whistle it was clear that Argentina was the teacher and the U.S> side would be the students of the game. With the Americans on their heels, Argentina pounced like a cat ready to devour its prey and devour they did. In the third minute, Messi lofted a perfectly weighted ball onto the head of Ezequiel Lavezzi and he headed it past the American keeper.
Twenty nine minutes later, it was the 29 year old’s turn to make history. American forward Chris Wondolowski took down Messi in a manner that all but stripped him of his jersey and number 10 for Argentina calmly got up and curled a set piece from beyond the eighteen past a diving Brad Guzan. The goal lifted the arguably the world’s best player past Gabriel Batista as the greatest scorer in Argentina history.
Five minutes into the second half, Gonzalo Higuain scored his first goal of the night and then on Messi’s third assist of the night, he closed out the 4-0 win.
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On a night in which many of the more than 70,000 fans thought the USA would put up a fight they went away silently in the darkness as Argentina outshot the Americans 11-0 and did not yield the red,white, and blue side a corner until the 67th minute of play.
Argentina’s quest for a third major final in the last two years and its first major world title in 23 years continues on Sunday night against either Chile or Columbia in East Rutherford, NJ.