Lionel Messi Defiant Even as Argentina Stand at Brink of Elimination from Copa America
Lionel Messi said he had no doubt that Argentina will qualify for the next round of Copa America despite being in a precarious situation.
Lionel Messi scored a penalty in Argentina 1-1 draw with Paraguay. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Lionel Messi came to the rescue of Argentina for the umpteenth time as they salvaged a 1-1 draw against Paraguay in the Copa America group match on Thursday.
It was Messi's penalty and Franco Armani's penalty save that kept Argentina still hunt to make it to the next round of the tournament.
Argentina had fallen behind when Richard Sanchez scored for Paraguay in the first half. They then required a penalty to equalise and were about to give back the lead after Nicolas Otamendi's rash challenge in the box but Armani made a big save for the team.
Argentina are at the bottom of a table that includes Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar. While Colombia have already qualified with two wins in two games, it remains between the other three.
Argentina will face tournament invitees Qatar next and will have to beat them to advance.
"Frankly, it's a little frustrating not being able to get the win we need to take the next step," Messi said after the match. "We knew this would be difficult, we're still looking for the best group, for the best performance, to keep growing."
"(The squad) is hurt by the situation because we can't manage to win a game, and we know today was key for us," Messi said. "We know we have to win the next game to advance."
Messi further added that despite the fact that three teams from each group are supposed to advance, it would be "crazy" if Argentina don't make it ahead.
"We know we'll be playing for our lives. It would be crazy if we can't advance from the group stage, when basically three (teams) advance from each group. I have no doubt we'll do it."
Messi has always faced scrutiny over his performances for Argentina. Despite guiding the team to three finals, Messi has been unable to get his hands on an international trophy and wants to change the norm this Copa America.
After Argentina's exit from the Round of 16 of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Messi had announced his retirement from international football but he soon came back to don the Argentinian colours.
Ahead of Copa America 2019, Messi expressed that he really wanted to win something with Argentina while his teammate Sergio Aguero said he wanted to win the tournament for Messi more than himself.
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