Argentina will face Brazil in Copa America semi-finals after beating Venezuela 2-0

  • Rob Swan

Argentina will take on Brazil next week for a place in the Copa America final after defeating Venezuela on Friday night.

Lautaro Martinez scored the opening goal of the game in the 10th minute of the match at the prestigious Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The Inter Milan forward, who also scored in the final group match against Qatar, brilliantly flicked home Sergio Aguero’s shot to give his team the lead.

Giovani Lo Celso then doubled Argentina’s advantage in the second half after coming on as a substitute.

The Real Betis midfielder tapped him from close range after a bad error from Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farínez.

Argentina were favourites to win this tie, despite their unconvincing group-stage performances.

But their nerves were eased thanks to Martinez’s early strike.

It was a brilliant piece of improvisation from the 21-year-old, who now has six goals in six international appearances this year.

Martinez has stepped up and taken responsibility with Lionel Messi not as his majestic best.

The Barcelona legend would have delighted fans prior to kick off by singing the national anthem – he doesn’t usually – but his performance wasn’t up to his usual standards.

Martinez almost doubled Argentina’s advantage early in the second half after being played through on goal by Leandro Paredes but hit the woodwork.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni raised eyebrows by taking off Martinez for Angel Di Maria with 25 minutes left to play.

Substituting his team’s biggest goal threat with the tie so delicately poised risked backfiring.

However, Lo Celso’s 74th-minute tap-in made sure La Albiceleste advanced to the final four.

Argentina and Brazil will now meet in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

The winners of that tie will either take on Colombia or Chile, who go head-to-head in Sao Paulo, or Uruguay or Peru, who play in the final quarter-final in Salvador.

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