Argentina rout Paraguay in Copa America semi
CONCEPCION, Chile (AP):
Lionel Messi helped set up five goals as Argentina trounced Paraguay 6-1 in the Copa America semi-finals on Tuesday night, setting up a final against hosts Chile.
Messi assisted in first-half goals by Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore and one of Angel Di Maria's two second-half goals. The Barcelona star also helped set up the final two goals by Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.
Messi showed his brilliant play-making abilities when he beat three defenders - poking the ball through the legs of one of them - in a remarkable run from near midfield that culminated in Argentina's fourth goal by Di Maria.
"We knew the goals would come eventually," Messi said through a translator. "We were playing well, creating chances and today we finally got all the goals."
Argentina had scored only four times coming into Tuesday's match.
"We are committed to keep playing the same way," Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said. "The team showed precision and efficiency in front of the goal."
Striker Lucas Barrios scored the lone goal for Paraguay, who were trying to reach their second straight Copa America final after losing to Uruguay in the 2011 tournament.
In Saturday's final, Argentina will attempt to end a 22-year title drought to give Messi his first triumph with the national team, while Chile, boosted by the home crowd and their best generation of players in years, will be going for their first South American championship.
Argentina haven't won a significant trophy since the 1993 Copa America, when Messi was six years old. The Argentines were eliminated by eventual champions Uruguay in the Copa America quarter-finals at home in 2011 and lost consecutive finals to rivals Brazil in 2004 and 2007. But Argentina has won the previous four Copa Americas played in Chile - the last in 1991. Also, they have never lost to Chile in the tournament.
Argentina outplayed Paraguay during most of the match in ConcepciÛn, controlling possession and creating scoring chances from the beginning. The team only struggled for a few minutes before half-time, but came back to crush its rivals in the second half.