Lionel Messi has a habit of bringing to the pitch some skills that are absolutely unworldly. The Argentine maestro’s ability to stop and change direction of the ball within milliseconds is absolutely astonishing and that is something that two Paraguayan players had to deal with first hand during their Copa America match on Tuesday. Messi’s Argentina defeated Paraguay 1-0 to advance to the quarter-finals but that was not even the best part of the match. Messi did not make it to the scoresheet but his silky moves left everyone in awe of him.
Argentina were on their way to the win when Messi decided to put on a show in the 92nd minute of the match. Messi was on the right wing going ahead with the ball when Angel Cardozo Lucena tried to challenge him. Messi stopped and changed direction in a flash as Lucena, in momentum, went sliding on the other side. Then left back Santiago Arzamendia tried to stop Messi but he was easily nutmegged by the little genius.
Messi made a record-equalling 147th appearance for Argentina on Tuesday. Only Javier Mascherano has played for Argentina as many times as Leo Messi and he will be the player with most games for Argentina in the final group match against Bolivia next Tuesday.
Argentina logged its second win in three group matches played, beating Paraguay 1-0, with Alejandro “Papu" Gomez scoring the sole goal of a lacklustre match in Brasilia in the ninth minute. The win placed Lionel Messi’s La Albiceleste top of Group A with seven points — enough to secure its spot in the next phase of the tournament being played in empty stadiums in coronavirus-battered Brazil.
Barring the goal and moments of Messi brilliance, it was not a glorious night for Argentina, who in the second half seemed to resign themselves to defending a spirited, but ultimately fruitless, Paraguayan attack.
While Argentina are on top of the group at the moment, they play their final group game against Bolivia while second-placed Chile play Praguay before them on Friday and it will be interesting to see who finishes the group stage on top.
(With AFP inputs)