Lionel Messi scored a record-equalling 54th international goal as Argentina outclassed Venezuela 4-1 to book their place in the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario here Saturday.
The Barcelona superstar scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 60th minute at the Gillette Stadium to equal Gabriel Batistuta’s long-time Argentina international goalscoring record.
Messi also created a goal for Gonzalo Higuain, who scored twice, and second half substitute Erik Lamela as Argentina set up a semifinal against the United States on Tuesday.
Messi is determined to lead Argentina to their first trophy in 23 years after a series of agonising near-misses which include defeats in the finals of last year’s Copa America and the 2014 World Cup final.
Few would bet against him achieving his goal after an inspirational display that left Venezuela chasing shadows in the early part of Saturday’s quarterfinal.
Argentina 4 (G. Higuain 8, 28, L. Messi 60, E. Lamela 71) bt Venezuela 1 (S. Rondon 70)
Chile 7 (E. Puch 16 & 87, E. Vargas 44,52, 57 & 74, A. Sanchez 49) bt Mexico 0.