Argentian players celebrate with Lionel Messi
Argentian players celebrate with Lionel Messi
AFP

Rio de Janeiro: Lionel Messi was at his best. The Barcelona star scored one and set up two, as Argentina overwhelmed Ecuador 3-0 in Goiania to march into the last four of the Copa America.

The 14-time winners take on Colombia for a place in the final on Tuesday. Colombia, overcame Uruguay on penalties earlier in the day.

Messi teed up goals for Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez before firing home an injury time free-kick to cap a stunning individual performance. The scoreline was harsh on Ecuador, who ended the game with 10 men after Pedro Hicapie's dismissal but had been competitive throughout.

Moments later Martinez had a shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner, German Pezzella volleyed into the side netting.

Carlos Gruezo almost gifted Argentina a goal when his attempted back pass sent Messi clean through with only Galindez to beat, but the six-time Ballon d'Or winner saw his shot cannon back off the post.

Up the other end, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had to be alert to parry a stunning 20-yard volley by Sebastian Mendez.

Argentina had their own let off seven minutes from half-time when Pervis Estupinan crossed from the left and Enner Valencia's flicked header narrowly evaded the sliding Alan Franco at the back post.

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