Argentina were in red-hot form and importantly, Lionel Messi came back to form in the most spectacular way to fire his side to a landslide 5-0 win, thereby becoming the second team after Colombia to reach the next stage of the Copa America 2016. Angel di Maria’s excellent left foot helped Argentina take the lead in the game with Nicolas Otamendi scoring with his head. Argentina could have scored more in the game but lacked a little bit of incisiveness up front. Then came Messi at the hour mark and three sumptuous goals ended any chances that Panama had in the game. Messi left the opposition dazed and amazed and in came the hat-trick. It was Messi’s fourth international treble. Catch the Video Highlights of the Copa America match between Argentina and Panama here Also Read - La Liga President Warns Lionel Messi Will Damage His Reputation if he Leaves Barcelona
Messi’s goal tally also moved within touching Argentina’s all-time top scorer, Gabriel Batistuta. The Barcelona legend had just come on for a few minutes when he took a knock-down from Gonzalo Higuain, scurried with the ball and slotted the ball into the net to give Argentina their second. This goal was more about exploiting space at the back. The 28-year-old’s second though, was pure genius and there was a collective gasp of amazement in the stands. It was a direct free-kick from just outside the box and Messi curled one to the right corner, far beyond the reach of the ‘keeper. From thereon, it was all about adding gloss to the scoreline but when Messi does it, there is method to the artistry. Messi took the ball at the edge of the area and three defenders converged in front of him, he stopped, shuffled it to his left and thumped the ball into the back of the net and past the goalie. Also Read: Lionel Messi scores stunning hat-trick; Arturo Vidal keeps Chilean hopes alive Also Read - UEFA Champions League 2020-21: Will Cristiano Ronaldo Play For Juventus During Clash Against Lionel Messi's Barcelona?
Then, there were more woes for Panama, who had done ever so well against Bolivia. Kun Aguero added a fifth and completed the rout and Gerardo Martino’s side had qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition. Also Read - PSG Star Neymar Snubs Lionel Messi And Barcelona For More Money: Report