By Abankula with agency reports
Argentina and Colombia picked the last two semi-final tickets in the 2021 Copa America.
They will battle each other on Tuesday for a place in the finals, while hosts Brazil will meet Peru in the other semi-final on Monday.
Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to wallop Ecuador 3-0 early today..
He scored one of the goals and provided assists for the other two.
Colombia edged out Uruguay via penalties.
Messi missed a golden chance in the first half in Argentina’s game against Ecuador.
But he set up Rodrigo De Paul five minutes before half-time and then did the same for Lautaro Martinez five minutes from the end to give Argentina a deserved victory.
The Barcelona player then got his second free kick off the tournament in stoppage time to round out a scoreline that was more convincing than the performance.
It was his 76th goal for Argentina, taking him to within one of Pele’s South American record.
“I’ve always said that individual prizes are secondary, we’re here for something else,” Messi said. “We have an objective and we’re focused on that.”
“It was a hard match, we know how difficult an opponent they can be. The important thing is we’ve taken another step forward.”
David Ospina was the hero for Colombia as he saved two penalty kicks to give as Colombia a 4-2 shootout win over Uruguay in Brasilia on Saturday.
The Napoli goalkeeper dived low to his right to keep out Jose Gimenez’s penalty kick and then leaped to his left to palm away Matias Vina’s attempt at the Mane Garrincha stadium.
The match went to a shootout after a goalless 90 minutes in which neither team posed a clear attacking threat.
With no extra-time played in South America’s major competitions, the match went straight to penalty kicks after 90 minutes.
It paved the way for Ospina and his teammates to atone for their shootout defeat to Chile in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Copa America.
“We want to achieve important things and this was a step towards doing that,” Ospina said after the match.
“They [Uruguay] are tough opponents and we had to work hard to beat them. We know that nobody is going to gift us anything. Now we’re going to rest and start preparing for our next match,” the Napoli goalkeeper added.
Veteran Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani said the Celeste were satisfied with their performances throughout the tournament, in spite of the unhappy ending.
“That’s the way it is with penalty kick shootouts, they can go either way,” the Manchester United player said.
“We played well and so did they. It’s always sad to be eliminated but we ought to keep our heads high because we improved as the tournament progressed.
“That’s why we’re staying positive and already thinking about what’s ahead.”