Argentina crumble against Colombia

Salvador (Brazil), June 16

Lionel Messi said his team was feeling bitter after Argentina lost their opening Copa America match 2-0 to Colombia despite dominating the second half.

Goals from Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata in the final 20 minutes gave Colombia their first tournament victory over Argentina in 20 years as Messi’s hopes of finally landing a major international tournament after losing in four finals suffered a serious blow. “We leave here feeling bitter,” said Messi following the Group B clash in Salvador. “In the second half we had our chances.” 

One of the best of those fell to the 31-year-old Barcelona icon but he headed wide after Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina got down quickly to push out a header from centre-back Nicolas Otamendi.

But although Argentina dominated possession and created more chances in the second period, they rarely caused Ospina any serious concerns. “We didn’t want to start this way, obviously, but now we have to lift our heads and keep going,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who lined up in an enviable forward trio with Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria. 

“In the first half we retreated a little and were holding on, but in the second we really opened up,” said Messi, the Argentina captain. “Whenever you lose it’s hard, we usually take it badly. Now we have to think about Paraguay.” 

Argentina can still make the knockout stages with games against Paraguay and guests Qatar, the Asian champions, to come. Midfielder Leandro Paredes, who forced a diving save out of Ospina with one long range strike and sent a second whistling past the post, was pleased with the second half performance. “We created a lot but unfortunately they scored in our best period,” he said. — AFP

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