Argentina reserved their best Copa America performance for their semifinal against Paraguay at Concepcion’s Municipal Stadium. In a dazzling display, Angel di Maria scored twice after halftime but in two impressive set-ups by Lionel Messi within the first 30 minutes, Argentina had already taken a 2-0 lead from goals by Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore. Paraguay pulled one back before halftime. Two minutes after the break, Pastore broke away in the midfield to feed di Maria, whose left-footer sank into the bottom corner. Six minutes later, Messi tore through Paraguayan defense in a zigzag run and fed the ball to Pastore. But Pastore’s shot was blocked by the Paraguayan goalkeeper. However, di Maria was close by to shoot back the rebound. In the last 10 minutes, Argentina completed the massacre by an 80th minute goal by Aguero and the sixth goal was scored by substitute Higuain. Argentina thus reached their 27th Copa America final and if they beat Chile on Saturday, they will take their 15th title in the South American championship.
The match began with Paraguay taking play in Argentinian goal area. Derlis Gonzalez was very close to the box but he was denied. In a swift counter-attack, Pastore sent a long ball for Aguero, whose pass found a fast moving Zabaleta. But the referee ruled him offside. Paraguay continued to come in Argentina’s half in the first ten minutes and they had their closest chance in the 9th minute from a counter after Argentina’s Biglia and Mascherano had fed the ball for Zabaleta and Rojo. A header from Nelson Haedo Valdez found Roque Santa Cruz free in the box, but Santa Cruz shot wide. During this period, Lionel Messi had been quiet but in 11th minute, he moved up in a 1-2 with di Maria before di Maria fed the ball to Zabaleta on the right side. Zabaleta, found the unmarked Pastore but Pastore shot straight into Villar’s hands.
Then in a Messi-inspired move, Argentina got a breakthrough in 15th minute. The superstar sent a swinging free kick from left and the ball dropped in front of Marcos Rojo, who was 10 yards from the goal but he still delivered a great left-footer that sank into the net. Messi’s brilliance was visible once again in the 22nd minute, when he evaded a few defenders, created space for himself and slipped the ball to Pastore. But Pastore’s strike was cleared by Villar for a corner to Argentina. In the 27th Minute, Argentina doubled their lead through a wonderful team goal. On the right flank, Messi collected a ball from his defenders and released it in the center, where Pastore was moving. It was an inch-perfect pass and Pastore moved closer, passed a defender and fired hard and low, giving no chance to Villar. At the half hour mark, Paraguay lost their captain Santa Cruz, who injured his hamstring. Messi made three attempts on the goal but couldn’t find the target. In the 44th minute, Paraguay reduced the deficit to 2-1 by a brilliant goal from Barrios. Argentina had a free-kick but Barrios reached the ball as the free kick was headed in. Barrios raced down and shot it cleanly. Romero couldn’t stop it. The teams left the field one minute later for the break.
As they resumed play after interval, Argentina enhanced their lead to 3-1 from another team goal in the 47th minute. Mascherano picked out Pastore somewhere in the middle and Pastore sent a brilliant pass between two defenders, where Angel di Maria was free to finish without any difficulty. In the 55th minute, Lionel Messi picked up the ball in Paraguay’s half moved up quickly and skillfully in his trademark dribble. On the way, he shrugged off Aguilar and passed the ball to Pastore. But Pastore’s strike was saved by Villar but the ball fell in the path of di Maria, who made no mistake on the follow-up. In the 80th minute, Argentina made it 5-1, Gago fed Messi in the midfield. Messi found Di Maria wide on the left side and di Maria sent a nice cross for Aguero, who rose between two defenders and headed past the Paraguay goalkeeper. The Argentinian superiority was culminated in the 84th minute from a goal by Higuain, who had come to the field minutes earlier. Messi and Banega were playing one-two in the box but it didn’t work. However, Higuain reacted quickly to find the ball and shoot it through to make it 6-1 for his team.
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