Host USA came to the end of the road in the 2016 Copa America competition after falling 0 – 4 to a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina side in the semi final clash staged at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Wednesday 22 June.
The script for the hosts was well written early in the game, going in as the underdogs and not doing much to state otherwise as they conceded the first goal on the third minute.
Messi picked the ball with acres of space and chipped it forward to Ezequiel Lavezzi, but it was cleared past the goal line for a corner. The corner was taken short and another chipped through ball from Messi was deflected, but fell to Lavezzi and he headed it beautifully for the opener.
Messi had a good attempt cleared by a last gasp Gyasi Zardes intervention on the 12th minute as Argentina continued with their dominance and on the 27th minute Clint Dempsey was lucky to stay on after an elbow on Javier Mascherano as the hosts struggled to stay in the game.
Chris Wondowolski had a desperate but necessary foul on Messi on the 30th minute as the Barcelona man charged in on goal and gave away a free kick that Messi took charge of it and directed it into the top-right corner of the goal past the fully extended Guzan.
A beautifully struck, a sensational goal that saw Messi eclipse Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer as the Argentines took a comfortable lead to the break.
Five minute into the second half and it was all over for the hosts as Gonzalo Higuain grabbed the third for Argentina. A long clearance picked out Higuaín alone in the area and Guzan made a brilliant save off his initial effort, but the Napoli striker was there to pounce on the rebound and punch it into goal.
Higuain completed the rout on the 86th minute after a poor clearance by USA was easily intercepted by Messi, who slotted a pass to Higuaín, whose clinical finish made it 4-0 and secured their third straight appearance in a final in three straight years after the 2014 World Cup and last year’s Copa America.