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Lionel Messi gets decisive assist as Argentina beat Uruguay in second Copa América match

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Three big points for the Albiceleste in the group stage

FBL-2021-COPA AMERICA-ARG-URU Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images

After an opening draw against Chile that put them under some pressure ahead of the second game, Argentina put together a solid team performance and defeated Uruguay to move into first place in Group B and take an important step towards a place in the Copa América quarterfinals.

Argentina started well and scored early from a short corner as Lionel Messi took on Lucas Torreira, found some space and put in a perfect cross to find Guido Rodríguez who headed it home off the post.

After scoring the opener, Argentina’s strategy was clear: give Uruguay the ball, be solid at the back and try to kill the game on the counter. Uruguay are always excellent when they get to defend and counter attack, but struggle historically to keep possession and break teams down.

Lionel Scaloni made four changes to his defensive structure and the backline was a lot more solid, with goalscorer Rodríguez doing an excellent job in front of the defenders. Despite having Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani on the pitch, Uruguay struggled for the rest of the game to create and Emi Martínez had no important saves to make in the second half.

Argentina couldn’t get a second goal to ensure the victory, but Messi and the forwards did a good job keeping the ball in their half to run out the clock. The final whistle came, and Argentina are winners thanks to a very good team performance.

They now need just three points from two games to guarantee a spot in the next round, and finishing top two in the group would be crucial to avoid Brazil and/or Colombia in the Final Eight. Paraguay is next on Monday, and a victory in that game could give Scaloni a chance to rest Messi, who looked exhausted in the final minutes, in the last game against Bolivia.