Copa 2024: Lautaro Martinez shines again as Argentina march into quarter-finals

Lautaro Martinez with Angel di Maria (Image: Argentina X)

Argentina made several changes for the match, most notably substituting Lionel Messi with Alejandro Garnacho, a promising talent in the Albiceleste’s new generation. The Manchester United winger played with freedom, showing good dribbling skills and taking the first shot of the match, which went wide in the Copa America Group A match at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Peru, needing a win to keep their qualification hopes alive, started their legendary forward Paolo Guerrero for the first time in the tournament. La Bicolor had very little possession and attempted to unsettle Argentina with ineffective counterattacks. Fossati’s team did not manage any shots throughout the entire first half.

Argentina had two clear chances to score in the first 45 minutes. In the 25th minute, Leandro Paredes curved a free kick from the left towards Gallese’s top right corner, but the goalkeeper managed to deflect it. Then, in the 44th minute, a great team play led by Di María on the right ended with Lo Celso shooting from the penalty spot, prompting a good save from Gallese. On the rebound, Garnacho’s shot narrowly missed the goal.

The first play in the second half brought the breakthrough. Di María, without controlling the ball, assisted Lautaro Martínez, who chipped it over Gallese to score his third goal of the tournament.

The game’s dynamics remained unchanged, with Argentina continuing to dominate. Tagliafico scored a goal that was disallowed, and Paredes hit the post with a penalty.

For Peru, Paolo Guerrero was substituted in the second half, marking his 28th appearance in this tournament and becoming the Peruvian with the most appearances in the history of the CONMEBOL Copa América.

Towards the end of the match, Lautaro Martínez chased a long ball, used his physicality to win it, and scored his fourth goal of the tournament. Peru came close to scoring their first goal when Zanelatto’s header hit the post.

Lautaro Martinez, with these two goals, is now the top scorer in the tournament. He played just one full-time match. Against Canada, the Inter Milan forward came in as a substitute in the 76th minute and scored in the 88th minute. In the following match versus Peru, he was again brought in by Lionel Scaloni in the 73rd minute, and he found the back of the net in the 88th minute. again. It is needless to say, the reigning World Cup and Copa champions have a set team. Even without the services of seniors like Messi and Di Maria, young guns like Lautaro Martinez are ready to step up.

The victory ensured Argentina finished first in their group with a perfect score (2-) and will play the quarterfinals on July 4. in Houston against the runner-up of Group B. For Peru, it marked the end of their journey in the CONMEBOL Copa América 2024.