Argentina secured a slot at the quarter-finals of the ongoing Copa America after beating Qatar 2-0. An early goal by Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero’s late second gave Argentina the much-expected victory.
Colombia, who had qualified for the next stage of the competition, beat Paraguay 1-0 in the other Group B match to guarantee a spot in the last eight for both Peru, who completed third in Group A, and Uruguay, who is second in Group C.
Argentina, who completed second in Group B behind Colombia, will play Venezuela in the quarter-finals, while visitors Qatar crashed out.
Paraguay, with two points, must watch out for what comes next in Monday’s Group C game between Japan and Ecuador to know whether they qualify as one of the two best third-place finishers.
Peru, on four points, is sure about that while just a draw among Japan and Ecuador would see Paraguay going to the next stage of the competition.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has to recall Sergio Aguero for the critical game, while Martinez played in place of PSG star Angel Di Maria.
World Cup 2022 host Qatar made an early mistake that could have punished the when a weak clearance from Tarek Salman landed on Martinez’s feet. However, the Inter Milan star could only volley over the post.
A few minutes later, Martinez got another opportunity to open the scoring; this time, he made no mistake. Bassam Hisham played a dangerous ball across his goal straight to Martinez who slotted home into the bottom corner.
The game was a relief to Argentina, who had been under much criticism recently and they played with an opportunity expected of a side flaunting abilities, for example, Aguero and five-time Ballon d’Or victor Lionel Messi.
Qatar didn’t display much ambition; however, they were dangerous when they ventured into the last third.
Hasan Khalid Al Haydos got in behind the Argentina backline and attempted to chip Franco Armani. However, the goalkeeper got a touch to redirect the ball behind, even though the linesman had raised his flag for an offside and the goal wouldn’t have stayed.
Messi charged forward towards Qatar’s goal before slipping a through pass to Aguero, who hauled his left-footed shot wide under intense pressure.
Qatar, on many occasions, were dangerous on the break. In one instance, Ro-Ro in a good position at the back post, met a Karim’ cross but could not place his shot on target.
At the opposite end, Nicolas Otamendi headed could not convert a goal from few yards out when it seemed more natural to score.
Iraq-born Hisham nearly offered some reparation for his earlier blunder with a free-kick toward the finish of the half however his shot, which went through the Argentina wall, did not count for any goal.
Messi on another run set up Aguero, however, his shot was redirected over by Boualem Khoukhi. Al-Sheeb produced a save from a long-range shot from Aguero.
Eventually, Aguero scored the needed goal to reward his hard work after a decent run past the Qatar defence before shooting into the bottom corner late in the match.
Colombia rolled out ten changes to his line-up, with just Juventus forward Juan Cuadrado holding his place.
They led the pack soon after the half-hour mark when Gustavo Cuellar scored through goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez’s legs from a tight point. In the second half, Colombia had a goal, and a penalty grant cancelled by VAR.