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Argentina Reach Copa America Final

Lionel Messi and Cesc FábregasArgentina superstar Lionel Messi hailed his team’s feat of reaching the Copa America Centenario final as having plenty of merit.

Argentina defeated the United States 4-0 on Tuesday night at NRG Stadium, and now will play in a final for the third straight year, after contesting and losing both the 2014 World Cup final against Germany and the 2015 Copa America final versus Chile.

The Barcelona striker believes the run is a great achievement for the team, but is hoping for a better outcome when they face the winner of the Colombia-Chile match in the other semifinal on Wednesday night.

“To be in three straight finals has a lot of merit,” said Messi following the match. “Making the final was the objective, this team always wants more, again we’re in the final and hopefully we will win it.

“This team deserves it because this team does things well both in attack and defence. We are eager and we have a lot of hope for this cup.”

Messi’s first-half goal from a free kick was his 55th international tally with La Albiceleste, making him Argentina’s all-time leading scorer, breaking the previous record of 54 held by Gabriel Batistuta.

Messi said he was pleased to have gotten the record in such a decisive win.

“I’m happy to have gotten the record. We found the spaces so that we could have more of the ball and we played a very complete match,” said Messi.

Unfortunately for Argentina, both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Augusto Fernandez left the match with injuries. The former walked out of the stadium in a cast, with head coach Gerardo Martino confirming that Lavezzi had suffered a fracture in his left arm.

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While disappointed that Lavezzi and Fernandez will be unavailable for the final, Messi is confident that their respective replacements will have no problems stepping in.

He said: “Sadly we had some injuries with Pocho [Lavezzi] and Augusto at the end of the match. It’s a shame, but I have no doubt that whoever comes in for them will play the same way.”