Lionel Messi equaled Argentina’s all-time scoring record and set up two other goals as La Albiceleste cruised to a 4-1 win against Venezuela Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Messi who also created goals for Gonzalo Higuain, who scored twice, and Erik Lamela to set up a last-four meeting with hosts USA scored his foruth of the tournament to go level with former Fiorentina hot shot Gabriel Batistuta.
Seeking a first Copa América title since 1993, Argentina advances to the Semifinals against the host United States Tuesday in Houston.
Argentina seemed in control for the first 30 minutes, with Messi and Higuaín combining for a sensational goal just eight minutes in. After Messi floated an inch-perfect pass from the right sideline, Higuaín slid to unleash a low first-time strike across his body, beating goalkeeper Dani Hernández at the far post.
Higuaín’s second goal, in the 28th minute, came when he rounded Hernández and tapped in after a bad back pass by Arquímedes Figuera.
Finally, with bodies flying, Josef Martínez beat Romero to a low cross at the near post and was taken down for a penalty kick. Seijas tried a chip straight up the middle but convinced no one, and Romero caught the ball easily.
That effort appeared to end Venezuela’s chances, especially when Messi and Nicolás Gaitán combined in the 60th minute, with Messi finishing to tie Gabriel Batistuta’s national record of 54 international goals.