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Argentina pulls away from Ecuador late to make Copa America semifinals

Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez add late goals as Argentina coasts to 3-0 victory.

Argentina v Ecuador: Quarterfinal - Copa America Brazil 2021
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with teammates after scoring the third goal of his team via penalty during a quarter-final match of Copa America Brazil 2021 between Argentina and Ecuador at Estadio Olimpico on July 03, 2021 in Goiania, Brazil.
Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Argentina looked shaky for much of its quarterfinal contest against Ecuador, but eventually the stars showed up.

Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi added late goals as Argentina ended up comfortably taking down Ecuador 3-0 in the last quarterfinal match of Copa America 2021. Argentina will meet Colombia in the semifinal next.

Messi’s goal in stoppage time gives him the lead for the competition’s top scorer, but it was Martinez’s finish that gave Argentina the breathing room it needed late.

Rodrigo De Paul opened the scoring in the 40th minute after the referee allowed play to continue despite Ecuador’s goalkeeper taking out an Argentine forward on a breakaway. Messi found De Paul for an open shot to give the favorites a 1-0 lead.

Ecuador failed to generate much in the contest, managing just two shots on target to Argentina’s eight.

Argentina should be favored against Colombia in the semifinal. More importantly, the win keeps the possibility of a Argentina-Brazil final alive.