Copa America – Day Five action round-up

Host nation Argentina needs a win in their final group game against Costa Rica to progress to the quarter finals of the Copa America after a 0-0 draw with Colombia in their second Group A fixture. The Argentinians were lucky to pick up the point as Colombia carvied out the best chances in an entertaining game with Chelsea target and current FC Porto striker, Falcao, a stand out performer.

Argentina made one change from the side held to a draw by Bolivia in their opening game; Manchester City’s full back Pablo Zabaletta coming in at left back. Sergio Aguero remained on the bench despite his game changing appearance on Saturday, meaning that the front line contained no out and out striker with Ezequiel Lavezzi retaining his place alongside Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Colombia also made one change from the side that defeated Costa Rica on Saturday with Carlos Sanchez coming into the centre of midfield. That meant there was still no place for Wigan Athletic’s Hugo Rodallega in the starting line-up.

The game started in a lively fashion with both sides chasing a victory; Argentina needing to make up for the dropped points in their opener, while Colombia knew they would seal their place in the quarter-finals with the three points. As it was Colombia really should have taken the lead on 26 minutes when Gabriel Milito inexplicably gave the ball straight to Ramos 20 yards out from goal. The striker rounded the goalkeeper but was denied by a superb recovering tackle by Nicolas Burdisso. The ball fell to Moreno but he incredibly side footed it wide of the empty net from six yards out.

Messi had been a peripheral figure but with his first, and only, piece of magic in the game threaded a delightful through ball to Lavezzi whose shot was blocked by the outstretched foot of Luis Martinez in the Colombian goal.

The difference between the two sides was the purpose of their passing; Argentina aimlessly knocking the ball around with no focal point of attack, while Colombia passed with pace and purpose. With a hesitant Argentinian defence, Colombia always looked the more likely scorers, forcing Sergio Romero into two more saves before the break.

The second half saw Argentina take the ascendency in terms of possession although Colombia always looking threatening on the break. On 65 minutes Falcao started one such break with a sublime turn on the half way line starting a move which ended with overlapping full back Pablo Armero firing across the face of goal. Only with the introduction of Gonzalo Higuain did Argentina offer any real threat and he came closest to a goal for the hosts when his shot was scrambled behind by Martinez.

The home side were greeted by boos at the final whistle and Messi, performing in his hometown, cut a disconsolate figure after another under par performance in an Argentina shirt. He needs to produce something approaching his best form in the final group game on Tuesday if the hosts are to progress to the knock-out stage.

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