Messi shines in Argentina's thrashing of Guatemala ahead of the Copa América

The Inter Miami "star" scored two goals and provided an assist. Lautaro Martínez, from Inter Milan, also scored twice.

Messi shines in Argentina's thrashing of Guatemala ahead of the Copa América Embed from Getty Images

A brace from captain Lionel Messi and another from Lautaro Martínez secured a 4-1 victory for Argentina over Guatemala in Landover on Friday, in their final preparation match for the Copa América.

This convincing win highlights Argentina's readiness and strong form as they head into the tournament as defending champions.

At FedEx Field, the match began with an early setback for Argentina, as Guatemala took the lead just four minutes in with an own goal by Lisandro Martínez. The early goal added unexpected pressure on the Argentine side, but it didn't take long for their captain to take control of the situation. Messi, showcasing his trademark skill and leadership, leveled the score at 12 minutes. This came after a defensive mistake by Guatemala's goalkeeper, Nicholas Hagen, who inadvertently presented Messi with the opportunity.

Argentina continued to press forward, and their efforts paid off just before halftime. At the 39-minute mark, Lautaro Martínez was brought down in the penalty area, and Messi, in a show of sportsmanship, allowed Martínez to take the spot-kick. The Inter Milan forward converted the penalty with composure, giving Argentina a 2-1 lead going into the break.

The second half saw Argentina dominate possession and create multiple scoring opportunities. Their persistence was rewarded again at 66 minutes when Lautaro Martínez found the back of the net for the second time, thanks to a precise assist from Messi. This goal further solidified Argentina's dominance in the match.

As the game progressed, Argentina's control only grew stronger. At 77 minutes, Messi himself scored his second goal of the night, following an excellent setup by Benfica's Ángel Di María. Di María, who had started the match on the bench, made a significant impact after coming on at 62 minutes, demonstrating the depth and quality of the Argentine squad.

The 36-year-old Messi now boasts an impressive record of 108 goals and 55 assists in 182 appearances for Argentina, underlining his crucial role in the team. His performance in this match serves as a reminder of his enduring talent and readiness to lead Argentina in the Copa América.

Defensively, Nicolás Otamendi, the captain of Benfica, played a solid match, featuring for the full 90 minutes. He received a yellow card at 21 minutes but otherwise contributed effectively to Argentina's backline, ensuring that Guatemala had few opportunities to threaten the Argentine goal after their initial score.

Argentina, the reigning world and South American champion, is set to compete in Group A of the Copa América, alongside Chile, Peru, and Canada. The tournament will take place from June 20 to July 14. Argentina's strong showing against Guatemala bodes well for their chances as they prepare for their opening match against Canada in Atlanta, just six days away. The team's blend of experienced veterans and emerging talents positions them as strong contenders to defend their title.

Updated: 10:25, 15 Jun 2024

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