GOIANIA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi scored a free kick and served up two assists as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-0 on Saturday to set themselves up for a Copa America semifinal against Colombia.
Messi missed a golden chance in the first half but set up Rodrigo De Paul five minutes before half-time and then did the same for Lautaro Martinez five minutes from the end to give Argentina a deserved victory.
The Barcelona player then got his second free kick off the tournament in stoppage time to round out a scoreline that was more convincing than the performance.
It was his 76th goal for Argentina, taking him to within one of Pele’s South American record.
“I’ve always said that individual prizes are secondary, we’re here for something else,” Messi said. “We have an objective and we’re focused on that.”
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Ecuador during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Olympic Stadium in Goiania, Brazil, on July 3, 2021.