The 2019 Copa America did not start well for Lionel Messi and Argentina, who were defeated 2-0 by Colombia at the Fonte Nova on Saturday. A very physical game was dominated by the Albiceleste in the second half, but Colombia were brutally efficient on the counter and picked up a big opening night win.
The entire first half was extremely physical, with rough challenges and quite a few bookings for both sides. Neither team was able to dominate possession, though Colombia was the best at stringing passes together and created a few half-chances. Overall, though, it was a tough game for talented players to be part of, so both Lionel Messi and James Rodríguez had little to no involvement in the first 45 minutes.
At halftime, both teams really wanted to win, but they needed to play just a little bit of football in the second half.
The physicality went back to a normal level, and Argentina started to play some great stuff. Substitute Rodrigo De Paul was a constant threat on the left wing, Leandro Paredes kept playing one great pass after another, and Messi and Sergio Agüero started to trouble the Colombia backline. Messi had the best chance of the game with a free header in the box, but he couldn’t direct it home.
And just when it seemed like Argentina were set to turn their dominance into a goal, Roger Martínez went on a fabulous solo run down the left wing and fired a rocket into the top corner, giving Colombia the lead against the run of play and setting up a dramatic finish for the Albiceleste.
Messi was on the ball even more as he tried to find an equalizer, while Colombia just waited for the perfect counter attack to kill the game. And they got it: Martínez found Jefferson Lerma on the overlap, and Lerma found substitute Durván Zapata for the second goal with five minutes to go.
The final whistle came to end a bad night for Messi and Argentina. They played really well in the first 30 minutes of the second half, but couldn’t convert their chances and had their defensive issues exposed once again. Their final two group stage games are going to be easier than this one, but they did not prove against Colombia that they’re ready to win the tournament.
Argentina: Armani; Saravia, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Lo Celso, Rodríguez (Pizarro), Paredes, Di María (De Paul); Messi, Agüero (Suárez)
Colombia: Ospina; Medina, Mina, Sánchez, Tesillo; Cuadrado (Lerma), Barrios, Uribe; James, Falcao (Zapata), Muriel (Martínez)
Goals: Martínez (71’), Zapata (86’)