Lionel Messi scored an incredible hat-trick off the bench to set up an easy victory for Argentina against the 10-man Panama side. Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero were the others to score in Argentina’s 5-0 victory against Panama in the Centenario Copa America Group D clash at the Soldier Field Stadium on Friday.
Nicolas Otamendi scored the opener for Argentina in the 7th minute. Di-Maria maria whipped in a decisive cross from a free-kick to find Otamendi in the danger area. The Man City defender made no mistake and thumped in a head past Penedo at the far post.
Panama held on to their nerves and responded well even after conceding early in the game. Perez played a pivotal role in curating chances for Panama as they looked desperate for an equaliser.
Argentina goalkeeper denied Perez of a sure scoring chance in the 28th minute. Panama won a free-kick to the left of the Argentina box. Camargo lodged a thunderous strike at goal but Romero managed to deal with it. Perez ran into a good position and only a tap would have been a goal for Panama.
There were not much action in the first half with both the teams coming close to score in few occasions but lacked the finishing.
However a sending off in the 31st minute added to the frustrations of the Panama coach. Godoy who had been already booked in the 27th minute was shown the second yellow for a reckless challenge on Gaitan.
Argentina looked much more positive after the restart with a sure chance at goal for Higuain in the 55th minute. Higuain managed to beat his way through the Panama defense and had only the keeper to beat, but an exceptional challenge from Miller knocked the ball behind.
Messi was kept on the bench despite being fit to play. However the captain joined the action in the 61st minute and scripted a magical hat-trick to book a spot for Argentina in knock-out stage.
61st Minute: Lionel Messi is subbed on.
87th Minute: Lionel Messi completes his hattrick.#Messi #ARGvsPAN #CA2016https://t.co/ASsRz8DSQN
— Råzthålå Bibek 麾 (@Biibekk) June 11, 2016
Messi doubled the lead for Argentina in the 68th minute as he clearly capitalised on his team’s numerical advantage. A messy clearance from Miller hit the arm of Higuain to find Messi, who fired a left footed shot at the the bottom left corner to beat the goalkeeper.
Top story: Gol de Messi – 38′ ST https://t.co/IwIRXit4o5, see more https://t.co/Yt7EjTs036
— Técnico PrePago HD (@QuieroPrePago) June 11, 2016
Messi scored his second in the 78th minute and brought the crowd to their feet. The Barcelona legend whipped in a curler over the wall just inside the near post, which was impossible for any keeper to stop.
Poor Leo Messi. Sore back, field too hard, grass too long. Can’t blame him for only getting a hat trick & an assist. https://t.co/iJKRnX7j3e
— TED (@EpicureanDeal) June 11, 2016
Messi completed his hat-trick in the 87th minute with a curler beyond Penedo at the far post to make things impossible for Panama.
Aguero completed the goal scoring rampage in the 90th minute with a header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner to beat the goalkeeper.