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Argentina escape elimination at Copa America beating Qatar

June 25, 2019 00:00:00

Argentina's Lionel Messi, right, fighting for the ball with Qatar's Tarek Salman during a Copa America Group B soccer match at Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre, Brazil on Sunday — AP

PORTO ALEGRE, Jun 24 (AP): Lionel Messi avoided another disappointment with the national team as Argentina escaped elimination in the group stage of the Copa America.

Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero scored a goal in each half as Argentina defeated guest team Qatar 2-0 to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the South American competition.

"We needed a victory to give us confidence and tranquility," Messi said. "What I liked the most was the team's attitude, its desire to win the game."

Argentina finished second in Group B behind Colombia, which did Argentina a huge favor by beating Paraguay 1-0 in the other group match on Sunday.

Colombia finished with nine points, Argentina four, Paraguay two and Qatar one.

The top two teams in each of the three groups advance, along with the two best third-place finishers. Paraguay will advance only if Japan and Ecuador draw on Monday in Group C.

Argentina, which hasn't been eliminated in the first round of the South American tournament since 1983, will face Venezuela in the quarterfinals at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

It was Argentina's first win at this year's Copa America after opening with a 2-0 loss to Colombia and a 1-1 draw with Paraguay.

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