Football 2 years ago

Messi, Higuain pounce for Argentina

  • Messi, Higuain pounce for Argentina

    FOXBORO, MA - JUNE 18: Gonzalo Higuain #9 of Argentina celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi #10 and Ever Banega #19 in the first half during the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinal match against Venezuela at Gillette Stadium on June 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Argentina toyed with and humiliated minnows Venezuela in their Copa America quarter-final on Saturday (Sunday AEST), winning 4-1 and marching on in the centennial tournament.

Leo Messi and Erik Lamela added to Gonzalo Higuain's first-half double, setting up a mouthwatering semi-final with the United States on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) in Houston.

Salomon Rondon's 70th minute header put Venezeula on the scoresheet but team-mate Luis Seijas left La Vinotinto's biggest mark.

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Seijas' fluffed penalty will make the unfortunate midfielder a household name after he botched a 'Paneka'.

His tame chip, which lobbed into the waiting arms of Sergio Romero, wrecked Venezuela's confidence and embarrassed the 29-year-old in front of 59,183 at Gillette Stadium.

Millions more will surely watch clips of the match's lowlight, as Argentina produced a fine highlights reel of their own.

As Argentina chases a first continental success in 23 years, Messi and Higuain combined to put them ahead on nine minutes.

In his first start of the tournament, the Barcelona forward curled a sumptuous through-ball in Higuain's direction, who struck a first-time half-volley home at the back post.

The opener was a goal tremendous vision and technical quality. The second came from a stuff-up.

The Napoli-based frontman raced onto Arquimedes Figuera's poor backpass and rounded gloveman Dani Hernandez for 2-0.

With half-time looming, Venezuela awoke. Rondon hit the post with a header and Romero's late challenge on Josef Martinez brought a penalty.

Seijas' shocking miss took the wind out of their challenge. It was no surprise when Messi increased Argentina's lead with a milestone goal.

The captain swept home Nicolas Gaitan's pass cross on 60 minutes for his 54th national team goal, equalling Gabriel Batistuta's record for the Albiceleste.

A stretched and chaotic match produced more still. Rondon headed home off the post but less than 60 seconds later, Lameka struck.

The Tottenham Hotspur winger received Messi's pass and found space under Dani Hernandez' gloves to complete the scoring.

The win means the hosts will take on the favourites for a place in the final in Houston on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).

Colombia will play Chile or Mexico in Chicago on Wednesday (Thursday AEST) to complete the last four.

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