Foxborough (US): Lionel Messi scored a record-equalling 54th international goal as Argentina outclassed Venezuela 4-1 to book their place in the semi-finals of the Copa America on Saturday.
A jubilant Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates his goal with teammates during the Copa America quarter-final against Venezuela at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, United States on Saturday. Argentina won 4-1. pic/Getty Images
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 semi-final against the United States in Houston on Tuesday.
Afterwards Messi played down his goalscoring milestone. “I’m happy for what it means and it’s nice to be next to Batistuta, but for me tonight the most important thing is the result,” Messi said.
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.
“I think people sometimes overlook that we got to two finals, and only focus on the fact that we lost,” Messi said.
“For us to be back in another semi-final of a big tournament like this one is a great achievement for these players.” Few would bet against Messi achieving his goal after an inspirational display that left Venezuela chasing shadows in the early part of Saturday’s quarter-final.