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Copa America

Copa America: Leo Messi Shines for Argentina

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina celebrates his second goal against Panama during a match in the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Soldier Field on June 10, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Argentina defeated Panama 5-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina celebrates his second goal against Panama during a match in the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Soldier Field on June 10, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Argentina defeated Panama 5-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In a hard fought and rather chippy match, Argentina and Panama played a wonderful match in front of a crowd 53,885 rowdy fans. The No.1 ranked team in the world looked the part for most of the match and came out on top with an impressive victory 5-0 over Panama.

In the first half Argentina looked hot from the start. The team was seemingly already on another attack right after the previously one had ended. The breakthrough goal came by the way of an Angel Di Maria cross that was wonderfully put into the back of the net by Nicolas Otamendi in the 7th minute. After that, the Argentina side nearly scored a few more, but the defense also was letting Panama get way too close for comfort.

Argentina and Panama both had impressive passing completion percentages with Argentina completing 93% of their first half passes and Panama completing 82%. The big kicker for Panama was having a player sent off in the first half. Anibal Godoy went in for a second hard challenge of the night and was given his second yellow card and in turn received his red to be sent off. This meant Panama would have to somehow stave off a goal onslaught from Argentina late in the match and they would be unable to do so.

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In the second half… Messi happened. Leo Messi came on and not only changed the game, he dominated it. He scored nearly every touch he had. Messi scored a hat trick in only 19 MINUTES of his 30 minutes of action and became the second-ever sub to score three goals in Copa America history. Leo was the difference maker.

It is hard to really remember what Panama did well as the second half was vastly different than the first half. Messi had an assist off of Gonzalo Higuain’s face, then scored a perfect and I mean PERFECT free kick to seal his hat trick. Then to kill it off, Sergio Aguero scored a late goal to add a little salt to the already extremely wounded Panama side.

Messi, Aguero, and Otamendi were the goal scorers tonight for Argentina and they reigned victorious in one epic blowout. It should be noted that Javier Mascherano also played a very impressive game in his old CDM style role while still dropping back on some CB duties. Marcos Rojo played well throughout the match by playing to his skill set and not trying to do too much. The entire Argentine team played well, especially in the second half.

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At the end of the day, in a match where Leo Messi can come off of the bench to score a 19-minute hat trick in under a half and hour of action, I would say that it was a pretty good day at the office. Argentina came out and showed that they were the #1 ranked team in the world for a reason and they put Panama through the ringer.

Argentina will surely be favorites to win the Copa America no matter what happens in their final group stage match. The best part of the evening was the entire crowd chanting for Messi to come in every single time that he appeared on the video board and Gerardo Martino gave into the 53,885 fans chanting for the Barcelona superstar to come on the field.

Going forward, Chicago’s Soldier Field hosted some incredible games in the group stage and the football stadium will host one of the semifinal match ups and I will hopefully be on hand to cover for all of you lovely TST fans.

Keep it right here on The Stoppage Time, powered by Azteca Soccer, for more world football news. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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