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06.07.2007 10:00

Messi lifts Argentina (1-0)


Lionel Messi played the final few minutes of Argentina's victory over Paraguay in the Copa América on Thursday evening in the last game of the opening group stages.

With eight changes to the starting line-up, the FC Barcelona star was given a rest as the Albiceleste had already qualified for the quarter finals having won their first two matches in the tournament. With the Paraguayans having also made it through, there was a lack of bite in the game which Argentina won 1-0.

Argentinian domination

Even though a draw would have been sufficient for both teams, there were still chances at either end as Paraguay looked to break down their opponents with a series of long passes, while Alfio Basile's side used Carlos Tevez to try and make the difference.

Changing the game

The second half was similar to the first as the Paraguayans appeared content to sit back and defend, while looking to hit Argentina on the break. The tactic did not work. The game was lifted when Javier Mascherano and Messi came on with 23 minutes remaining as the Barça player used his skill and pace to torment the opposition, while Mascherano made the decisive breakthrough in the 78th minute. After topping the group, Argentina will now face Peru in the quarter finals on July 8.

Messi lifts Argentina (1-0)
Argentina 1
Paraguay 0

Argentina: Abbondanzieri; Ibarra, Burdisso, Díaz, Zanetti; Lucho González (Mascherano, min.67), Gago, Cambiasso (Messi, min. 67), Aimar (Ayala, min. 85); Tévez, Rodrigo Palacio.

Paraguay: Bobadilla; Verón, Cáceres, Manzur, Torres; González, Dos Santos (Barreto, min.69), Vera, Santana (Santa Cruz, min.81), Cuevas (Dante López, min.57), Cabañas.

Goal: 1-0, Mascherano (min.78)

Referee: Jorge Larrionda (URU).

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