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Sport

Lautaro’s late strike sends Argentina into Copa quarters

todayJune 26, 2024 8

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Substitute Lautaro Martinez grabbed an 88th-minute winner as Argentina finally overcame Chile 1-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Copa America on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi hit the post for Argentina in the first half but the World Cup winners had their goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to thank for keeping them on level terms before Lautaro’s late strike settled a pulsating clash in front of 82,000 fans at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

There were enough openings for the 15-times Copa America champions to get the breakthrough much earlier but a combination of poor finishing and an inspired performance from Chile’s 41-year-old goalkeeper Claudio Bravo left the scored deadlocked.

The home of the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants — and venue for the 2026 World Cup final — was transformed into a home venue for Argentina and the expectant crowd saw Messi and company dictate proceedings in the early stages.

Messi’s strike partner Julian Alvarez forced Bravo into a save in the 22nd minute with a first-time shot after Nicolas Gonzalez had pulled the ball back from the byline.

Chile were doing a good job of neutralising Messi, closing him down with three players on occassions but the eight-times Ballon d’Or winner was inches away from an opener in the 36th minute with a shot from 25 yards out which clipped the outside of the post.

Bravo did well after the break to parry out a blast at the near post from Nahuel Molina and then showed great reactions to push a fierce Nicolas Gonzalez drive against the bar.

Chile threatened on the counter though and twice Emiliano Martinez had to be at his best to deny drives from Rodrigo Echeverria.

But the decisive moment came when Chile failed to clear an in-swinging corner from Messi and Lautaro Martinez pounced to grab the winner.

Lautaro should have added a second after a breakaway from Angel Di Maria but in the end the solitary goal was enough to make it two wins out of two for the World Cup winners and book their place in the next round with a game to spare.

In other Copa America action on Tuesday,Jonathan David scored the only goal as Canada reignited their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Peru in sweltering Kansas City.

Lille striker David – who is reportedly being targeted by Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea – once again demonstrated his eye for goal with a cool finish to secure all three points for Canada against 10-man Peru at the Children’s Mercy Park Stadium.

A game played in scorching afternoon sunshine – with on-pitch temperatures nudging towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) – saw one of the two referee’s assistants collapse with apparent heat exhaustion just before half-time.

Canada, beaten 2-0 by Argentina in the opening game of the tournament last week, took the lead in the second half after Peru had been reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Miguel Araujo for a wild foul on substitute Jacob Shaffelburg that sparked a melee amongst players from both teams.

Referee Mario Escobar initially only gave Araujo a yellow card for his ugly studs up challenge on Shaffelburg but the punishment was upgraded after a VAR review.

That dismissal tipped a close game in favour of Canada and the breakthrough finally came on 74 minutes with David’s goal from a sweeping Canada counter-attack.

Left-winger Shaffelburg played a sensational first-time cross-field pass to David, who took one touch without breaking stride and then buried a right-foot finish into the bottom corner past Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Peru pressed forward in search of an equalizer, but Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau denied Christian Cueva with a fine one-handed reflex save to parry away a volley before saving Paolo Guerrero’s injury-time free-kick.

sev/rcw

AFP

(NAMPA / AFP)

Written by: Staff Writer

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