FT: Argentina 3-0 Mexico (Heinze, Messi, Riquelme, pen)
Argentina cruised into the final of the Copa America tonight after a comprehensive win over a luckless Mexico in Puerto Ordaz.
Argentina took the lead from a Gabriel Heinze flick just before the break and then doubled their lead on the hour mark through a marvellously deft chip from Lionel Messi. Juan Roman Riquelme cheekily made it three from the penalty spot five minutes later after Carlos Tevez threw himself to the ground after a Rafael Marquez challenge.
The scoreline was trifle harsh on Mexico, who hit the woodwork twice. However, although they battled hard and never gave up running Hugo Sanchez’s men were no match for the more experienced Argentines.
The win means that Argentina will face Brazil in the final here in Maracaibo on Sunday. It also leaves Argentina as the only team to win all five of their matches.
Nevertheless, the victory was not achieved with the same ease as their previous wins. Argentina struggled to reproduce their characteristically flowing football as the eager Mexicans harried them at every turn and prevented them from getting into their stride.
Mexico could have taken the lead on several occasions in the first half, with Andres Guardado hitting the woodwork after wrong footing two defenders. Mexico had Nery Castillo playing up front after an injury scare but he did not look as fully fit and he did not trouble the Argentine rearguard.
Heinze’s opened the scoring after dreadful goalkeeping by Oswaldo Sanchez but just moments after the break Mexico hit the wodwork again, this time when Castillo steered a left foot shot against the bar.
That was the closest Mexico came to scoring, however, and as the game went on Argentina, with Cambiasso working hard on the right, gradually took control. Messi scored the decisive goal in 60 minutes with a sublime chip from the edge of the box after a nice through ball from Tevez.
That deflated the youngsters and the game was effectively over five minutes later when Riquelme scored the third from the spot. Manager Alfio Basile made three changes, taking off Juan Sebastian Veron, Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez and replacing them with
Fernando Gago, Pablo Aimar and Rodrigo Palacio.