Argentina were too good, Lionel Messi was better and the USA had no answers in this Copa America Centenario semifinal. With a performance of artistry and attacking verve, Argentina showed why they are the favourites for the title with a comprehensive 4-0 tonking of the home team in Houston on Tuesday.
Messi bagged his 55th international goal, which made him Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer, beating Gabriel Batistuta, and a couple of assists, Gonzalo Higuain added a brace, with Ezequiel Lavezzi netting the opener as Argentina outclassed the Americans, who just could not do anything of note going forward in the entire 90 minutes.
The opening goal came in just the third minute, after Argentina had the ball from pretty much the start. Off a quick short corner, the ball eventually came to Messi outside the penalty box, and the Barcelona superstar produced a delightful chipped ball over the top for Lavezzi to get onto and finish with his head.
Argentina made it 2-0 a couple of minutes past the half hour courtesy a Messi special. Off a freekick from 25 yards, and from a position that does not favour the left-footer, Messi planted a thunderous hit right into the top corner with the goalkeeper left with absolutely no chance, despite only having to move a few feet.
If the match was not done by then, it certainly was in the 50th minute, as Higuain ran onto a pass over the top of the USA defence to make no mistake with his finish.
With USA deflated, and hardly having a single shot on goal, it was just about damage limitation for the rest of the second half. There would be some more damage, though, four minutes from the end, with the United States giving the ball away, and that too, of all people, to Messi, who coolly squared the ball for Higuain to tap home and complete a thoroughly satisfying evening for Argentina.
The favourites will now face the winner of the second semifinal between Colombia and Chile.