Football news - Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina set up Copa America semi against Colombia with win over Ecuador
Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to qualify for the Copa America semi-finals when he scored once and set up the other two of his side's goals in a 3-0 victory over Ecuador on Saturday night. The striker, out of contract at Barcelona, ensured Argentina will meet Colombia in the next round of games, on Wednesday at 2am BST.
Lionel Messi of Argentina looks at the ball during a quarter-final match of Copa America Brazil 2021 between Argentina and Ecuador at Estadio Olimpico on July 03, 2021 in Goiania, Brazil
The 34-year-old, who is currently without a club after his Barcelona contract expired this summer, scored a free kick in injury time when Piero Hincapie fouled Angel di Maria. Hincapie was sent off for the foul.
Speaking after the match, Messi was less concerned by his 76th Argentina goal than the prospect of winning a trophy with his countrymen.
"I've always said that individual prizes are secondary - we're here for something else," he explained.
"We have an objective and we're focused on that.
"It was a hard match. We know how difficult an opponent they can be. The important thing is we've taken another step forward."
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Argentina face Colombia at 2am BST on Wednesday, and have not won the tournament since 1993.
Colombia are now installed as their next opponents, and national team coach Reinaldo Rueda praised 32-year-old Ospina, who became the coutnry’s most capped player in his 112th appearance.
"David has always been a leader," Rueda said.
"He's very cerebral when it comes to penalties. That's a big help to our team."