Ezequiel Lavezzi won’t play a part in the Copa America Centenario final after fracturing his elbow during Argentina’s 4-0 win over the United States.
After scoring Argentina’s opener, Lavezzi’s night took a turn for the worse when he fell backwards over an advertising hoarding in the second half.
The 31-year-old was left writhing in pain after he attempted to retrieve Javier Mascherano’s overhit pass. Scroll down to watch the bizarre incident.
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After leaving the game on a stretcher, medics confirmed that the Hebei China Fortune man suffered a radial fracture in his left elbow.
It means he will play no part in the final as the Albiceleste attempt to end their 23-year wait for a major trophy.
And Lavezzi’s night started so well, too. He kickstarted the rout in the third minute by heading home Lionel Messi’s chipped pass.
Lavezzi’s fall put a dampener on what was a magnificent night for Argentina, and Messi in particular. The Barcelona star scored a beautiful free-kick in the first half to become Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer, his 55th international goal breaking Gabriel Batistuta’s record.
It was the perfect response from a player who Diego Maradona recently admitted didn’t have the personality to be a leader.
Messi added another assist in the closing stages to cap off a fine evening. Watch the highlights here.
The 28-year-old will get another opportunity to win a major international trophy after suffering many disappointments. Messi has lost three finals for his country - at the 2007 and 2015 Copa America’s and the 2014 World Cup.
To recover from his setbacks is impressive. Gerardo Martino arrived after the loss to Germany in Brazil and has guided the national team to two finals in two years.
The pieces have always been there for Argentina to dominate international football. Now, it appears that Martino is learning to put them together.
Messi attributes Argentina’s success to the close relationship the players share with the coaches.
“As we move forward, we’re going to grow,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner told Ole, per the Daily Mail.
“We are doing well in all aspects. We have already been working together for a while and have got to know the coaching staff, and they us.
“From the beginning until now, we have grown a lot.”
Despite all of his accomplishments, there are many who are waiting for Messi to win an international title before declaring him football’s greatest ever player. Only Colombia or Chile, who will meet in tonight’s other semi-final, stand in his way.