Argentina 6-1 Paraguay: Angel Di Maria nets twice in easy win
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 01/07/15 11:38am
Argentina will face Chile in Saturday’s Copa America final after beating Paraguay 6-1 in a one-sided semi-final.
Manchester United duo Marcos Rojo and Angel Di Maria both got on the scoresheet - the winger grabbing a second-half double - while Javier Pastore, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain also found the net.
Lucas Barrios threatened to make a game of it when pulling the score back to 2-1 just before half-time but there would to be no repeat of the 2-2 draw between the sides when they met in the group stages.
Argentina were made to look very wasteful against Colombia in the quarter-finals, missing plenty of chances, but were in ruthless mood in Conception.
Lionel Messi sent over a well whipped in free-kick on 15 minutes that wasn’t dealt with by Paraguay and Rojo was on hand to force the ball home from eight yards out – his first goal since scoring for Manchester United against Cambridge United in the FA Cup in January.
With Paraguay pushing men forward the likes of Messi, Pastore and Di Maria had space to work in and they doubled the lead on 27 minutes.
Messi was the creator again, sending a perfectly waited ball into the path of Pastore, who took a touch and fired into the bottom corner all before the Paraguay defence could react.
Barrios, who replaced the injured Roque Santa Cruz on 30 minutes, was the last man to net against Argentina in the tournament courtesy of a 90th minute equaliser in the group stages and he was to be a thorn in their side again just before the break.
A poor clearance by Nicholas Otamendi was headed straight into the path of Barrios, who steadied himself before firing into the net.
Paraguay could have done without the half-time break as they were in the ascendancy but having the chance to regroup in the dressing room did Argentina the world of good.
They came out with a greater enthusiasm and pace to their attack, which paid dividends with two quick-fire goals from Di Maria.
Pastore sent the Manchester United man away in behind the full-back on 47 minutes with a wonderful outside of the foot pass and the winger slotted home form a tight angle.
Confidence was flowing through Argentina veins now and Paraguay’s legs were flagging. Messi drove through the heart of the defence on 53 minutes, executed a cheeky nutmeg and found Pastore inside the area. His shot was saved but it fell to Di Maria four yards out who couldn’t miss.
There was still time for Aguero to head in a pinpoint Di Maria cross and substitute Higuain to hammer home from close range after yet more incisive work from Messi.
That’s how to send out a message ahead of a final.