Copa América: Messi equals Mascherano’s record as Argentina qualifies for quarterfinals

Lionel Messi equals Javier Mascherano's record of 147 matches for Argentina  | Daily Mail Online

Lionel Messi, 33, equalled Javier Mascherano’s record of 147 match appearances for Argentina on Tuesday in Albiceleste’s third match at the 2021 Copa América against Paraguay played at Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha.

The Argentine captain achieved the milestone two days before his 34th birthday and the Barcelona main man has taken to Instagram to celebrate it.

“Another important victory to continue growing,” Messi wrote on Instagram as the caption to a photograph of himself and ex-teammate Mascherano.

“Proud to have been able to wear the light blue and white as many times as my friend Masche (@ mascherano14) whom I love very much and always respected and admired.”

Mascherano likewise congratulated Messi via social media. “Congratulations Leo for having reached the record appearances for Argentina,” the ex-Argentina captain said.

“Nobody better than you to continue growing the legend and be the player with the most appearances in our National Team. Congratulations to the whole team for the victory and many more!”

Mascherano made his debut for Argentina in 2003, representing the nation at five Copa América tournaments, finishing runner-up in 2004, 2007, 2015, and 2016, and four FIFA World Cups, reaching the 2014 final.

On June 30, 2018, following Argentina’s elimination from the World Cup after a 4-3 loss to France in the Round of 16, Mascherano announced his retirement from international football.

Should Messi be handed a start next week against Bolivia by coach Luis Scaloni, he would go on to be the most capped player for Argentina, ahead of the likes of Javier Zanetti and Diego Maradona.

Although Argentina were lackluster in the game versus Paraguay, an excellent pass from Angel Di Maria helped set up Alejandro Gomez to score the only goal of the match in the 10th minute.

Argentina beat Paraguay 1-0 and have now qualified for the quarterfinals of the competition.

The victory against Paraguay was Argentina’s second 1-0 win in a row in this tournament and their 16th match without defeat since losing in the Copa America semi-final in 2019.

Argentine defender Germán Pezzella remarked, “We’re through but we have to keep improving. We had a great first half, our intensity wasn’t the same in the second but they didn’t have very many chances at goal.”

For Argentina, Sergio Aguero made his first international start since November 2019, enjoying a 60-minute cameo.

Argentina’s win gives them seven points from three games and leaves them top of Group A, two points ahead of Chile, four ahead of Paraguay and six ahead of Uruguay. Bolivia are bottom with no points from two matches.

Argentina will play Bolivia in their Group A finale next Monday, needing only a point to finish in the top two and to avoid Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Paraguay, meanwhile, will play Chile this Friday.

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