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Argentina blitzes U.S. to reach Copa final

HOUSTON -- Gonzalo Higuain scored twice, Lionel Messi added his team-leading fifth goal and had two assists and Argentina routed the United States 4-0 in the Copa America semifinals on Tuesday night.Ezequiel Lavezzi also had a goal and an assist ...

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Argentina midfielder Lionel Messi, left, kicks the ball as U.S. defender Fabian Johnson defends in the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario Tuesday at NRG Stadium. (Photo by Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON - Gonzalo Higuain scored twice, Lionel Messi added his team-leading fifth goal and had two assists and Argentina routed the United States 4-0 in the Copa America semifinals on Tuesday night.
Ezequiel Lavezzi also had a goal and an assist to help the Argentines remain unbeaten at 5-0-0 in the tournament and reach their second consecutive final.
Lavezzi later left the match with an apparent arm injury after a scary fall over the signboards surrounding the pitch.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan made three saves for the U.S. team, which suffered its second loss of the tournament and will play the loser of today’s semifinal between Colombia and Chile in Saturday’s third-place match. Argentina will play the winner the following day in New Jersey.
Seventeen-year-old Christian Pulisic played the entire second half for the United States, which can still top its previous best finish of fourth place in the tournament, achieved in 1995.
The United States was outshot 11-1 by Argentina.
Argentina took the lead only three minutes in when, after a short corner, Lavezzi passed to Messi outside the penalty area. Messi completed the give-and-go with a lofted pass that Lavezzi headed over Guzan from close range.

Messi made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute on a 23-yard free kick that he won after absorbing a foul from American Chris Wondolowski.
With the Americans setting up a defensive wall to guard the left side of the goal, Messi instead guided his effort into the top right corner beyond the reach of a wrong-footed Guzan.
Higuain scored his first goal five minutes after halftime when he finished a sequence set up by Lavezzi’s long looping service from the left. He got his second 26 minutes later on Messi’s feed after a U.S. giveaway in its own half.
Messi all-time goal record
Messi became his country’s all-time top goalscorer on Tuesday when he scored to take his international tally to 55 goals.
The goal in his 112th international lifts him above Gabriel Batistuta, who scored 54 goals in 78 games for the two-time world champions.
The Barcelona striker now has five goals in the Copa America and is one behind Chilean Eduardo Vargas in the race to become the tournament’s top goalscorer.
He has achieved his tally despite not starting in Argentina’s first three games because of a back injury. His form has nevertheless been outstanding with the 28-year old scoring a hat-trick in 19 minutes after coming on as a substitute in a 5-0 win over Paraguay last week.
Argentina are hot favorites to win the Copa and end a trophy drought that extends back to 1993, when they won the Copa in Ecuador.

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