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Copa America 2024: Argentina enters quarter-final

Messi's corner kick led to a shot blocked by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, and Martinez scored his second goal of the tournament on Argentina's 21st shot of the match.

Copa America 2024: Argentina enters quarter-final
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Lautaro Martinez and his teammates celebrate Argentina's winner on Tuesday night

EAST RUTHERFORD: Lautaro Martinez scored off a rebound in the 88th minute, giving defending champion Argentina and Lionel Messi a 1-0 victory over Chile that guaranteed them a berth in the Copa America quarterfinals.

Messi's corner kick led to a shot blocked by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, and Martinez scored his second goal of the tournament on Argentina's 21st shot of the match.

Players stood and waited for three minutes while the goal, Martinez's 26th for the national team, was confirmed in a video review.

Argentina leads Group A with six points, followed by Canada with three, and Chile and Peru with one each. The Albiceleste finishes the first round against Peru at Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday, when Canada meets Chile in Orlando, Florida.

Playing a day after his 37th birthday, Messi frequently flaunted his talent to spin around and slalom through defenders before an adoring sell-out crowd of 81,106 at MetLife Stadium, the very stadium that’d host the 2026 World Cup final. Argentina dominated 21-3 in shots and 11-0 in corner kicks. and Chile didn't take its first attempt until the 72nd minute.

Messi came the closest to scoring before Martinez with a 30-yard shot that glanced off the post to Bravo's left in the 36th minute. Nicolas Gonzalez's shot from another Messi pass in the 62nd was parried off the crossbar by Bravo.

On the 46th anniversary of Argentina winning its first World Cup title, the two teams returned to the stadium where Chile beat Argentina on penalty kicks in the 2016 Copa America final. That defeat prompted Messi to announce his international retirement only to reverse his decision seven weeks later.

At least 90% of the fans wore Argentina jerseys, most with Messi's name and No. 10.

Bravo, at 41 the oldest player in Copa America history, had eight saves in his 150th international appearance. He and Messi, former Barcelona teammates, spoke with each other while leading their teams onto the field for the national anthems.

There were some small brown patches behind one goal on a grass field installed at a stadium where the usual surface is artificial turf. The surface was narrow, with construction scheduled to allow a wider field for the World Cup.

PTI
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