Lionel Messi set up the winner as Argentina edged rivals Uruguay 1-0 to claim their first victory of the 2021 Copa America in Brasilia on Friday. Argentina, who have not lifted the Copa America since 1993, had drawn 1-1 with Chile in their opening game but secured three points thanks to Guido Rodriguez's first international goal in the 13th minute.
Messi pulled the strings for 14-time Copa runners-up La Albiceleste – beaten finalists in 2015 and 2016 – with his cross from the left flank finding Real Betis midfielder Rodriguez for his winner, which snapped Argentina's run of three consecutive draws while extending their unbeaten streak to 15 matches.
Uruguay, playing their first game of this year's CONMEBOL tournament, were left frustrated by a resolute Argentina, while they were left to bemoan a first-half penalty shout which was turned down.
Suarez and Cavani struggle to make an impact
Argentina started brightly as Messi stung the palms of Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera with a curling seventh-minute effort, before Nicolas Otamendi had a header saved.
Messi then created space down the left for a cross which found Rodriguez, who nodded in off the inside of the post for his maiden Argentina goal.
In the 27th minute, Uruguay had a penalty shout turned down when Rodriguez appeared to make slight contact with Edinson Cavani inside the box.
Argentina raced down the other end with Messi laying off for Nahuel Molina, who tested Muslera at the near post.
Opportunities were few and far between in the second half, with Uruguay star Cavani almost glancing in a half-chance in the 69th minute while a subdued Luis Suarez flashed a volley over as Uruguay built some momentum.
Argentina struggled to create anything of note after the break, relying in attack on Messi, who was regularly crowded out by Uruguay's defence.
What does it mean? Argentina on the move
La Albiceleste have four points from two games, sitting equal top with Chile in Group A. Argentina's win halted their run of draws but it also extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games, dating back to the 2019 Copa America semi-final loss to Brazil.
Fast-starting La Albiceleste
Rodriguez's early goal means 10 of Argentina's past 11 goals in either 2022 World Cup qualifying or the Copa America have come in the first half. Only Joaquin Correa has scored in the second half in that run, coming against Bolivia in October last year.
Uruguay goal drought
Despite the presence of Cavani and Suarez up front, Uruguay failed to register one shot on target. Uruguay had more possession but only managed four shots, all off target. La Celeste's scoring woes are a major headache for head coach Oscar Tabarez whose side have not scored this calendar year. Uruguay are winless in their past four outings. To make matters worse, La Celeste have failed to score in all four of those matches. Uruguay have not beaten their old rivals since 2013.
Argentina return to action against Paraguay on Monday, while Uruguay take on Chile on the same day.