Argentina bounced back from a defeat and a draw in their first two games to avoid what would have been an indefensible disaster — failing to advance from the group — by beating Qatar 2-0 in the two sides’ Group B finale.
Lautaro Martinez scored what turned out to be the game-winner after just four minutes. Qatar attempted to play the ball out of the back, but a pass from a Qatari defender was badly mishit and went straight to Martinez, who was quick to corral the ball and run it down for a one-time finish from just inside the box.
Sergio Aguero put the game to bed with a brilliant individual goal in the 82nd minute. After receiving the ball 40 yards from goal, Aguero bust forward and went past two defenders in a flash before picking out a small window to hit with his left-footed finish from 12 yards out.
Up next for Lionel Messi and Co., is a quarterfinal tangle with Venezuela.
Colombia 1-0 Paraguay
Having already secured a place in the quarters, Colombia finished group play with a perfect nine-point record and locked up first place in the group edging past Paraguay.
Gustavo Cuellar bagged the game’s only goal in the 31st minute, when he snuck the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs from an impossibly tight angle.
Colombia finished Group B with three victories, by way of four goals scored and zero goals conceded.
Monday’s Copa America schedule
Chile v. Ecuador — 7 p.m. ET
Ecuador v. Japan — 7 p.m. ET
A miserable opening 45 minutes gave way to a more exciting second half, and Roger Martinez came off the bench to win the day with a 71st minute stunner to give Colombia all three points in Bahia, supported by a late cherry on top from Duvan Zapata.
The goal came just minutes after Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead during a spell of serious possessional domination midway through the second half. Once again, the Argentinian collection of star forwards came up empty, a drought that continues to plague the side in big matches.
The first half, largely, was a physical mess with very few real chances on net. The possession was nearly even between the two sides, neither team registered a shot on target, and there were just five shots overall in the first half, including just one for Argentina.
Early on, Lionel Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s best chance as he delivered a stunning long ball forward for Sergio Aguero, but with David Ospina coming acres out of his net to challenge with a flying karate kick, the offside flag went up to end the chance. Colombia was dealt an early blow as Luis Muriel was forced off with an early thigh injury, replaced by Martinez in a move that would eventually prove critical.
Argentina suffered a near-disaster when Nicolas Otamendi delivered a dangerous back-pass to goalkeeper Franco Armani who sent it right back to his defender with both under heavy pressure, but they escaped just conceding a corner and it came to nothing for Colombia.
After the break, the game opened up a bit but there were still few chances on net. Messi nearly weaved his way through the entire Colombian defense, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez before Wilmar Barrios came in to cut the ball off, but the referee made a controversial decision not to award an illegal back-pass as Barrios then touched back to Ospina who collected in his arms. Instead, he showed a yellow card to Leandro Paredes for dissent after the action arguing his case.
The two teams burst into a scuffle when Messi was hacked down by Juan Cuadrado past the hour mark as Argentina began to grab hold of the game. Cuadrado received a yellow of his own and was withdrawn shortly thereafter. On the hour mark, Messi had a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead, but as Paredes saw his effort saved, the rebound came to Messi but he headed wide right from point-blank range despite the goal gaping.
Minutes later Colombia took the lead through a simple yet stunning move as Martinez burst down the left and cut inside just outside the top of the penalty area, unleashing a fabulous strike that left a diving Armani with no chance as it buried into the side netting inside the far post.
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni somehow decided that 31-year-old Matias Suarez was the choice for a last throw of the dice off the bench, choosing the man with two prior international caps over the likes of Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. Instead, Colombia went down the other end and eviscerated the Argentina defense with a vicious counter down the left as Roger Martinez combined with Jefferson Lerma. The latter crossed to the doorstep and Zapata – who came on just five minutes earlier for Radamel Falcao – somehow beat the napping center-back pairing of German Pezzella and Otamendi.
The win for Colombia gives them an early advantage in Group B, while Argentina can still rescue its situation with matches remaining against Paraguay and Qatar. The loss marks the third in Argentina’s last four competitive matches, with losses to France and Croatia in World Cup play prior to this defeat.
Pogba was picked for the team, which is voted for by Premier League players, despite having an up-and-down season. He was dropped for the final matches of Jose Mourinho’s tenure and has had a dip in form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent weeks.
Chelsea forward Eden Hazard wasn’t included, despite being on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year award.
A flop from either would’ve been understandable given the 7-goal thriller at midweek, but both provided fine accounts of themselves as Phil Foden was the match-winner.
Ederson: 9 – *Man of the Match* here was plenty of luck in his thwarting of Lucas Moura‘s late deflected strike, but the Brazilian will enjoy a clean sheet following Wednesday’s second leg.
Kyle Walker: 6 – Would VAR have him conceding a second half penalty for handball?
John Stones: 6 – Not terrific, though his partial block that led to Ederson’s last big save was bigger than we realize.
Aymeric Laporte: 7 – A notable error between Laporte and Stones late takes this down a point, but he was huge along with Ederson in the early stages.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7 – Is City in the UEFA Champions League semifinal with a healthy Zinchenko in place of Mendy, Delph, et. al.
Kevin De Bruyne (Off 38′): N/A – His injury will be alarming for City, given recurring knee troubles this season.
Ilkay Gundogan: 6 – An unspectacular display as time ticks down on his career at City.
Phil Foden: 8 – The fifth-minute header could hardly have been a more important first Premier League goal.
Bernardo Silva: 8 – A delightful dribble and cross to the back post set up the opener, as the Portuguese playmaker continues a fine season.
Sergio Aguero (Off 66′): 7 – Perhaps a bit quieter than usual, but his headed assist was what City needed early at the Etihad.
Raheem Sterling: 7 – Absolutely in the discussion for Premier League Player of the Season, and has been switched on from moment one.
Subs Fernandinho (On 38′): 7 – Easy to applaud anyone who comes on for an hour off the bench and doesn’t miss a beat. Broke up some serious Spurs threats. Leroy Sane (On 66′): 7 – Short spell, but effective. Should’ve collected an assist for his set-up of Sterling
Paulo Gazzaniga: 7 – Solid enough and made a great point-blank save in the second half from Sterling.
Juan Foyth: 7 – A little lost at right back early on, but worked hard and made some important tackles against Sterling and improved as the game went on.
Davinson Sanchez: 6 – See above. Solid on his return to the starting lineup. Maybe could have done better on the goal as Aguero peeled off him.
Toby Alderweireld: 7 – As dependable as ever. Good block from Aguero in the second half, which had a hint of handball, but the Belgian knew nothing about it.
Jan Vertonghen: 7 – Dominant display and tried his best to get Spurs moving forward when he could.
Ben Davies: 6 – Struggled to cope with Bernardo Silva, but then again most defenders have this season.
Eric Dier: 5 – Has been out with injury for a while, and looked rusty on his return to central midfield.
Christian Eriksen: 7 – Some lovely balls forward for Son, and he was denied by Ederson in the first half when he should have probably scored.
Dele Alli: 6 – A few majestic flicks in the first half, and appealed for a penalty kick on Kyle Walker. Looked a little jaded, which is understandable.
Lucas Moura: 7 – Hurried and chased all game long, and nearly got in to score in the second half but Ederson denied him.
Heung-Min Son: 6 – Another sharp display, but will be disappointed he didn’t score after having three big chances in the first half. Led Spurs’ charge on the counter attack.
Subs Danny Rose: 6 – Did okay and brought his usual energy to the left back position. Victor Wanyama: 5 – Booked. Did his best to provide a better shield than Dier in front of the Spurs defense. Fernando Llorente: 5 – Hardly touched the ball in his brief cameo on the pitch. No hip/arm touches today…
Fernando Llorente’s 73rd minute goal withstood the review of VAR and Raheem Sterling‘s stoppage time finish did not, as Tottenham Hotspur advanced past Manchester City in an all-timer of a UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg.
It finished 4-3 to City on the day and 4-4 on aggregate, with Spurs scoring the only away goals. Tottenham will meet Ajax in the semifinal.
Heung-Min Son scored twice for Spurs, with Llorente’s winner overcoming a glance off his arm.
Sterling scored twice for City, who also got goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero. The quadruple hunt is dead.
It didn’t take long for City to level the tie, a third minute pass from Kevin De Bruyne finding Sterling. The English winger cut inside as Kieran Trippier gave him room to fire a shot just inside the far post and into the side netting.
Son then demanded City score at least twice with an eighth minute marker to make it 2-1 on aggregate when Aymeric Laporte‘s poor intervention fell to the South Korean. Ederson got the a piece of it, but not enough to stop the ball from heading into the goal.