COPA AMERICA - Day 10: Messi pulls strings to send Argentina into quarters
Hosts Argentina, with star Lionel Messi in tow, flexed their muscle in their final group stage match of the 2011 Copa America on Monday. La Albiceleste required victory over Costa Rica in Cordoba to move through to the next phase and delivered after two lacklustre draws to kick-off their campaign.
The 3-0 result allowed them to move into second place on the Group A table and join Colombia in the quarter-finals which commence on July 16 once Group B and C have been finalised.
Atletico Madrid star Sergio Aguero tapped home in injury time of the first half after Fernando Gago's long range effort was only knocked slightly away by Costa Rica keeper Leonel Moreira before Aguero added a second seven minutes into the second half when he received a through ball from Lionel Messi to finish with ease.
Argentina's dominance hadn't quite wrapped up the match by the hour-mark until Angel di Maria struck in the 63rd minute after another neat pass from Messi.
It was the kind of performance manager Sergio Batista had been looking for since the start of the tournament and it came at the right time as Argentina now find themselves in the final eight of the competition on their home soil.
Costa Rica can still move through to the quarters as the second best third placed team but only if Venezuela defeat Paraguay or if Ecuador defeat Brazil in Group B.
Today pits Group C's Chile and Peru against each other whilst Uruguay need at least a draw against Mexico to progress.
2011 Copa America - Argentina
Friday July 1Argentina: 1 (Sergio Aguero 75') Bolivia: 1 (Edvaldo Rojas 48') Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata
Saturday July 2Colombia: 1 (Adrian Ramos 45') Costa Rica: 0 (red card: Randall Brenes 27') Estadio 23 de Agosto, Jujuy
Wednesday July 6Argentina: 0 Colombia: 0 Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao Lopez, Santa Fe
Thursday June 7Bolivia: 0 (red cards: Ronald Rivero 70', Walter Flores 75') Costa Rica: 2 (Jose Martinez 58', Joel Campbell 78') Estadio 23 de Agosto, Jujuy
Sunday July 10Colombia: 2 (Radamel Falcao 14'/(p) 28') Bolivia:0 Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao Lopez, Santa Fe
Brazil: 0 Venezuela: 0 Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata
Paraguay: 0 Ecuador: 0 Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao Lopez, Santa Fe
Venezuela: 1 (Cesar Gonzalez 61') Ecuador: 0 Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta
Uruguay: 1 (Luis Suarez 45') Peru: 1 (Paolo Guerrero 23') Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan
Chile: 2 (Esteban Paredes 66', Arturo Vidal 72') Mexico: 1 (Nestor Araujo 40') Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan
Peru: 1 (Jose Guerrero 82') Mexico: 0 Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza