Messi at his best as Argentina drub US

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June 22, 2016
File Messi

HOUSTON (AP):

Lionel Messi pretty much ended the United States' Copa America hopes in less than three minutes. Argentina's diminutive dribbling, scoring machine showed the skills, speed, and brilliance that have made him a five-time World Player of the Year, exposing the huge gap between the US and football's elite.

Messi set up Ezequiel Lavezzi's opening goal 175 seconds in, scored on a free kick to break Argentina's career scoring record, and assisted on the second of Gonzalo Higuain's two goals in a 4-0 rout last night that put La Albiceleste into the Copa America final.

"We got outplayed badly by a very good team," US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said. "Today is a good day to judge where we are in programme overall. We're obviously a long way off."

Messi flicked the ball over the defence to an open Lavezzi for the opener, then doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with his 55th international goal, his tournament-leading fifth, Higuain added goals in the 50th and 86th minutes, the latter off a Messi pass.

Argentina had 67 per cent possession and outshot the Americans 9-0.

Argentina seek their first major title since the 1993 Copa and a first since Messi's debut in 2005 on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey, against the winners of today's semi-final between Chile and Colombia.

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