Copa America: Disappointed Messi rues Argentina failure to close match


LA SERENA, CHILE: Lionel Messi, who came to the Copa America looking to end Argentina’s 22-year trophy drought, was bitterly disappointed after his team were reeled in by Paraguay for a 2-2 draw in their opening match.

Argentina overran Paraguay in the first half and took a two-goal lead through Sergio Aguero and Messi’s penalty only for their opponents to hit back with a goal from Nelson Haedo Valdez on the hour and Lucas Barrios’s 90th minute equaliser.

“We were at fault in that we should have had more of the ball in the second half and controlled the match, not they,” said Messi, who left the field head bowed after Saturday’s Group B match at La Serena.

“It’s maddening to go winning 2-0 and finish with a draw,” said Messi who has come off a brilliant season helping Barcelona win a treble of La Liga, the King’s Cup and the Champions League.

“We should have slowed the match down when they were coming at us,” he told reporters.

“Now we have to think about Uruguay and we know we must win. There’s a lot to improve and this is only the first match, now we’ve got to be calmer than ever.”

Paraguay became more daring in the second half, throwing off their defensive shackles and putting the Argentine defence under pressure, sometimes outnumbering them in counter-attacks as Argentina continued to pour forward but missed glaring chances, two of them almost on the line.

Holders Uruguay, who eliminated Argentina on penalties in the 2011 Copa America, will provide another tough test even if they were unconvincing in a 1-0 win over guest team Jamaica in Antofagasta on Saturday. – Reuters