Copa America: Messi missing as Lautaro Martinez's brace secures flawless group stage run for Argentina

Copa America: Messi missing as Lautaro Martinez's brace secures flawless group stage run for Argentina

Eric Munene 08:16 - 30.06.2024

Argentina progressed to the knockout out stages of the Copa America following a 2-0 victory over Peru.

In a decisive group stage clash at the 2024 Copa América, Argentina showcased their dominance yet again, securing a flawless record with a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Peru at the Hard Rock Stadium.

This victory not only maintained Argentina's impeccable run in the tournament but also marked a significant moment as it condemned Peru to their first group-stage exit in nearly three decades.

With a quarter-final berth already assured, Argentina approached the match with confidence, making nine changes to their starting lineup.

Absent from the squad was their talismanic figure Lionel Messi, sidelined due to a lingering hamstring concern.

Assistant coach Walter Samuel, deputizing for the suspended Lionel Scaloni, guided the team with strategic adjustments, emphasizing attacking intent from the outset.

Despite facing a resolute Peruvian defence that initially held firm, Argentina's persistence paid off before the half-hour mark. Leandro Paredes unleashed a curling free-kick that seemed destined for the top corner, only to be denied by a spectacular save from Pedro Gallese.

The Peruvian goalkeeper continued to frustrate Argentina with another crucial stop, denying Giovani Lo Celso just before halftime.

The second half saw Argentina quickly assert their dominance. Lautaro Martinez broke the deadlock early, deftly chipping the ball over Gallese after a precise assist from Angel Di Maria.

Moments later, Argentina celebrated what appeared to be a second goal by Nicolas Tagliafico from a corner, only for it to be disallowed due to an offside decision.

Argentina's quest for further goals continued, with Paredes unlucky not to score from the penalty spot as his thunderous effort struck the upright in the 71st minute.

However, Martinez, displaying his class once again, sealed Argentina's victory with another exquisite finish, executing a delicate chip to secure his country's eighth consecutive triumph.

With this win, Argentina maintain their momentum heading into the quarter-finals, displaying formidable form and depth despite resting key players.

Meanwhile, Peru's valiant effort was not enough to extend their tournament journey, marking a disappointing end to their campaign after an impressive streak of avoiding group-stage exits for almost three decades.

Argentina now looks ahead with confidence as they aim to continue their pursuit of Copa América glory.