Lionel Messi record three goals in 26 minutes to lead Argentina past Panama 5-0 getting early tickets to quarterfinals
JUAN CARLOS CORDERO, UNO International News Service. Photos: MONIKA CORDERO-FLORES in USA 2016 and in The Road to Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics with ALISON LEMON, Agencia UNO
Superstar Lionel Messi showed why he is the Best Soccer player on Earth. He scored a hat trick in his smashing Copa America 2016 debut as Argentina defeated 10-man Panama 5-0 Friday night at Chicago’s Soldier Field. With that result, only waiting for its last match of Group D, La Albiceleste waits to complete three victories against Bolivia and play the quarterfinal game versus the second qualified from Group C, either Venezuela or Mexico.
FC Barcelona Messi, who entered the game as a substitute in the 61st minute scored off a failed clearance that bounced off a teammate in the 68th and with a curling free kick in the 78th. His third goal came in the 87th minute. Messi missed his team’s first Copa America game, still dealing with a back injury in a friendly game with Honduras and carrying a concussion at the celebration of La Copa del Rey in Spain.
Lionel Messi, criticized by Diego Maradona on not having the character to be a leader, simply declared after the match: “I hope it’s our Copa, it’s what we want, but we must be calm.”
His stats were impressive: 3 shots to the net and 3 goals, 36 touches, 28 successfully completed passes, 1 goal assist.
The second match day turned for Argentina when Panama’s Anibal Godoy was sent off in the 31st minute for receiving a second yellow card, but the South Americans were already ahead 1-0 after defender Nicolas Otamendi headed in Angel Di Maria’s free kick in the seventh minute.