Angel di Maria sparkles as Argentina thrash Paraguay

Sport360 staff 05:51 01/07/2015
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Loving life: Di Maria.

An Angel di Maria brace and three glorious assists from Lionel Messi saw Argentina run riot in Concepcion on Tuesday evening, hammering South American rivals Paraguay 6-1 to book a place in the final of the 2015 Copa America.

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If Gerardo Martino’s side were determined to send out a statement of intent to their potential opponents in Saturday’s final they certainly achieved their aim with four unanswered second half goals demonstrating the side’s unrivalled potency in attack.

Going in at the break, Paraguay would have felt reasonably content with the score at 2-1 after Lucas Barrios had brought the Albirroja back into the tie just minutes before the interval. Argentina had earlier raced into a two-goal advantage through Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo and PSG’s Javier Pastore.

Having come back from a two-goal deficit in the Group Stage clash between the pair, Barrios’ left-footed effort would have given the underdogs hope for the second half. However, that flicker of promise was cruelly taken away just two minutes into the second period as Di Maria raced onto a Pastore through-ball to restore his side’s cushion.

As far as Paraguayan hopes were concerned, the match changed in a matter of minutes as Di Maria then struck again with a sweet volley to extend the Argentine lead.

With the result then beyond doubt, the 2014 World Cup finallists sensed blood and in the final 10 minutes of the tie were able to add yet more gloss to the scoreline through goals for strikers Sergio Aguero and substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

The result was cruel on Paraguay who have performed well above expectation over the past two weeks but merely served to emphasise the gulf in class between themselves and Argentina at the current point in time.

They will now go on to face Peru in the third-fourth place playoff on Friday, while Argentina and Chile will meet on Saturday’s final to determine the champion of the 2015 Copa America. On anything approaching this kind of form, Argentina will be difficult to contain.

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