Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica

Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica: Lionel Messi at last came into his own as Argentina beat a defensive Costa Rica 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the Copa America in style courtesy of a brace from Sergio Aguero and another from Angel Di Maria.
Aguero, on from the start with Carlos Tevez benched in a revamped forward line, netted seconds from half-time after the hosts had dominated the opening stages.
With Messi magnificently pulling the strings just behind the main strikers, Atletico Madrid star Aguero made the points safe with a second goal seven minutes after the restart to take his tally at the event to a tournament-high three.
Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica, Di Maria then finished off the outclassed Ticos with the third just after the hour mark as Argentina finished Group A with five points to join pool winner Colombia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela in the last eight. Argentina will face the Group C runner-up in Sante Fe on July 16.
“This was a real tonic — just what we needed,” said Aguero.
“We played very well and got the goals — but the main thing was we gelled as a team. Now we have to keep it up.”
Javier Pastore, a late substitute for the profligate Gonzalo Higuain, who could have at least doubled the margin, agreed.
“That was a really important win and a good team performance — our attitude was spot on,” he said.
Coach Sergio Batista was under huge pressure to deliver a win and secure passage to the next round with the hosts seeking their first major trophy since 1993.
And after their slow start he rang the changes with Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi benched and Higuain brought in as a classic centre forward allowing Messi to concentrate more on his string pulling out of the immediate firing line.
Where Messi in particular was concerned, the plan worked like a dream, as the Barcelona man was involved in almost every move, tearing Costa Rica’s defence to shreds with his incisive passing and weaving in and out.
Messi was quiet in Argentina’s draws against Bolivia and Colombia but, on Monday, he showed why he is considered by many to be the best player in the world.
“Lionel knows how to overcome these situations. He has personality to overcome them and, today, he showed it on the field,” said Batista. “He played a tremendous match.”Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica 2011, Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica, Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina swamp Costa Rica photos, pics, images.
Argentina applied constant pressure in the first half before Aguero put Argentina ahead with the last kick of the first half, taking advantage of a deflection to bury the loose ball when the packed Costa Rica defence tried to clear a dangerous move in their box.
Aguero added the second eight minutes into the second-half after being put away by Messi on the left.
With Messi finding more space and laying on a string of perfect balls to the strikers, his combination with Angel Di Maria was perfect as the midfielder came in from the left to fire into the roof of the net in the 64th.
Argentina were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty just past the hour when Gonzalo Higuain was pulled back.
A 54,000 crowd — which included 1978 World Cup hero Mario Kempes, visiting a stadium named after him — gave Messi a huge ovation at the end as the Barca man and the team renewed their covenant with the delirious fans.
Costa Rica seldom managed to venture into Argentina’s half and only came marginally close to a chance in the first half with a shot from outside the box by shaven-headed midfielder Heiner Mora that went just over the bar.
Now the Costa Ricans must wait to see if they squeeze into the last eight as one of the two best third-placed teams.

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