Home Sports Lionel Messi scores 18-MINUTE hat-trick as Argentina move into Copa America Q/final

Lionel Messi scores 18-MINUTE hat-trick as Argentina move into Copa America Q/final

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Lionel Messi came off the bench to score a hat-trick in just 18 minutes on Friday as Argentina hammered Panama 5-0 and eased into the quarter-finals of the Copa America.

Argentina were 1-0 up at half-time thanks to a Nicolas Otamendi goal after just six minutes.

Panama lost Anibal Godoy to a red card after half an hour but the Central Americans held on until Messi, who missed Argentina’s opening win against Chile with a sore back, replaced Augusto Fernandez after 61 minutes.

The Barcelona forward started gingerly but grabbed Argentina’s second in the 68th minute by steering home a left foot shot after a rebound fell to him in the Panama box.

He scored a gorgeous second with a 25-yard free kick just nine minutes later and then with some fancy footwork in the box gave himself enough space to slot home his third and Argentina’s fourth in the 86th minute.

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