Adds details, quote CUIABA, Brazil, June 28 (Reuters) – Lionel Messi passed Javier Mascherano as Argentina’s most capped international on Monday and scored twice as they beat Bolivia 4-1 to line up a Copa America quarter-final against Ecuador. Messi was in fine form on his 148th appearance for Argentina and it had been his sublime pass that found out Alejandro Gomez to volley home the opening goal after five minutes. Barcelona forward Messi doubled their lead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark then made it 3-0 shortly before halftime when he ran on to a through ball from Sergio Aguero and lobbed Carlos Lampe.
Bolivia, who had lost their previous 11 Copa America matches, made life harder for themselves by repeatedly abandoning possession in their own half. However, they improved after the break and surprised Argentina on the hour when Erwin Saavedra swept home across from the proper to form it 3-1. Their slight hopes of a comeback were extinguished within five minutes as substitute Lautaro Martinez restored Argentina’s three-goal advantage within seconds of replacing Sergio Aguero. Messi’s goals were his 74th and 75th for the national side and it could are more except for another excellent performance by Lampe within the Bolivian goal.
The win extended Argentina’s unbeaten streak to 17 games, a run that goes back to the last Copa America once they lost to Brazil within the semi-finals. “We’re in propriety going into the quarter-finals,” said Giovani Lo Celso, who came on within the last half. “The team knows how it’s playing and what it wants to try to to. We’re recuperating and now comes the foremost beautiful part.” The result means Argentina will face Ecuador within the last eight on Saturday while Uruguay, who beat Paraguay 1-0, will play Colombia an equivalent day. Host nation Brazil will combat Chile in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, while Paraguay plays Peru an equivalent day.