No Messi, no problem, Argentina beats Peru

No Messi, no problem, Argentina beats Peru

1 minute, 37 seconds Read

Argentina ignored Lionel Messi’s injury and made an excellent start to the Copa America on Saturday by beating Peru 2-0 in Miami.

Lautaro Martinez scored twice at the Hard Rock Stadium to seal a victory that ensured Argentina progressed to the quarter-finals as winners of Group A, AFP reports.

With Messi sidelined by a sore right hamstring and coach Lionel Scaloni serving a one-match suspension, Argentina have made nine changes to their starting line-up at the Hard Rock Stadium.

But despite the makeshift line-up, Argentina were always in control against a disappointing Peruvian team who managed only one shot on target in a one-sided encounter.

Martinez’s first goal came just after half-time, when a sublime through ball from Angel Di Maria set the Inter Milan forward free, who calmly lifted a deft finish over the advancing Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Argentina had a chance to double their lead in the 72nd minute after Jesus Castillo gave away a penalty with his hand in the penalty area.

But Leandro Paredes crashed his subsequent penalty into the woodwork, leaving the score at 1-0.

Martinez scored the second goal in the 86th minute, taking advantage of a long pass forward and firing the ball past Gallese.

Replays showed Martinez appeared to push defender Aldo Corzo in the build-up to the match, but referee Cesar Ramos waved away Peru’s protest and the goal was allowed.

Argentina will now meet the runners-up from Group B, most likely Ecuador or Mexico, in the quarter-finals in Houston on Thursday.

In the other Group A match on Saturday, Canada held the 2015 and 2016 Copa America winners in Chile to a 0-0 draw in Orlando to reach the last eight.

Chile needed a win to take the Canadians through to the knockout rounds but had an early mountain to climb when Gabriel Suazo was sent off for a second yellow card after just 27 minutes.

Canada will play the winner of Group B in the quarter-finals.

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