SEATTLE, Sporting Alert – Argentina cruised into the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa America, after thrashing Bolivia 3-0 in the final group match of the tournament on Tuesday night.
First half goals from Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Victor Cuesta piloted the world’s No. 1 team to the comfortable victory, as the South Americans went on to secure top spot in Group D of the Copa America.
Lamela got the ball rolling when his free-kick was deflected off the wall and slipped in past Carlos Lampe in the 13th minute.
Two minutes later, the score was double, as forward Ezequiel Lavezzi fired home a right footed shot from very close range, after Sergio Aguero’s header was blocked.
Lavezzi then turned provider for Cuesta to score his first international goal for Argentina – guiding home a teasing cross played into the six-yard-box from the right side.
Captain Lionel Messi was introduced to the game at halftime and the Barcelona forward, although not scoring, had an entertaining second half, which closed a little choppy.
The earlier game in Group D saw Chile rallied from a goal down to beat Panama 4-2 to finish second and move on to play Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas each had a brace for the defending champion, while Miguel Camargo and Abdiel Arroyo scored for Panama, which was without four starters due to suspension and injuries.
Argentina is the only team to win all three of the group stage games this year and will hope to keep that form in the search of its first major international championship since winning this tournament in 1993.
The Copa America tournament will be on an off day on Wednesday, but will resume with the knockout round on Thursday.