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Lionel Messi suffers injury scare but Argentina march on at Copa America

Argentina advanced to the Copa America quarter-finals with a hard-fought win in New Jersey

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi suffered an injury scare as Argentina beat Chile 1-0 to become the first side to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Copa America.

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez netted the only goal two minutes from time to send the defending champions through from Group A, although their delight was tempered by an injury to captain Messi.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner received treatment for a right thigh problem in the first half and, although he was able to play the full game, it leaves his participation for their final pool game against Peru on Saturday in doubt.

Messi said: “It’s bothering me a bit. I hope it’s nothing serious. It was hard for me to move freely. Tomorrow we’ll see how I feel.

“We knew it would be very physical. All the games are physical, and Chile are tough. They had a lot on the line but we achieved our objective, winning and we’re into the quarter-finals.”

Argentina dominated in New Jersey and coach Lionel Scaloni felt the late winner was just reward.

He said: “We deserved to win. The game wasn’t easy. We won it at the moment you least expected it. The team kept believing and attacking. The win is deserved because Argentina made all the effort, but it was very tough.

“We have to keep playing this way, it’s going to be difficult.

”[Chile] sat back, with a line of five, but we’re happy because in the end we got the three points.”

Martinez again started on the bench with Scaloni preferring Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez but it may be they get the chance to form a forward partnership at the weekend if Messi is rested.

“Lautaro and Julian can play together,” Scaloni added. “It’s about finding a balance. Today, Lautaro scored the goal. He’s the first who’s happy. Julian is the second and I’m the third.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.