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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 April, 2014

Juego Bonito: the best bits (and the worst) from last night’s Copa America action

Reasons to be cheerful – one, two, three …

Image: Felipe Dana/AP/Press Association Images

Group A: Argentina 3-0 Costa Rica

How it happened: After bearing the brunt of the criticism for his side’s sluggish start, Lionel Messi grabbed Argentina’s Copa America campaign by the scruff of the neck last night, inspiring his team-mates to a 3-0 win over Costa Rica.

The Barcelona star was at the heart of Argentina’s attacking waves throughout the first period, though Sergio Batista’s men ultimately needed a stroke of good fortune to take the lead before the break.

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, pouncing to fire home a loose ball after Fernando Gago’s shot was spilled by Costa Rican keeper Leonel Moreira.

Aguero was on the mark again shortly after the break, taking his own tally for the tournament to three when he neatly finished Messi’s assist in the 53rd minute to give the hosts some breathing space.

Messi was again the provider 11 minutes later, allowing Angel di Maria to wrap up a comfortable three-goal victory and spare Argentina the embarrassment of an early exit.

Key player: Lionel Messi, who responded to his critics the only way he knows how – by dominating the game. He provided the killer pass for Aguero’s second goal and for di Maria’s, and created a raft of other chances for the Albiceleste’s forward line as well.

Turning point: Aguero’s opener which came in first-half stoppage time. After dominating the first-half, it was important for Argentina to make a breakthrough before the jitters started to set in for both players and crowd. Once they had gone ahead, there was no looking back.

What it means: The hosts join Colombia in the knockout stages. Costa Rica still have a chance to qualify themselves as one of the best third-placed teams, but they need Venezuela to beat Paraguay tomorrow night.

Next up: Group C comes to a close this evening. Chile and Peru – both of whom have already secured their places in the knockout stages – meet in Mendoza (23:15 BST) before Uruguay and Mexico do their thing in La Plata (01:45 BST).


Read more of TheScore.ie’s Copa America coverage here >

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