As Argentina defeated Colombia in a closely-fought semi-final of Copa America 2021, captain Lionel Messi got one step closer to lift the first major international silverware with the national side. It has been a life-long dream for the Argentine wizard to lead his side to their first major title at the international stage since 1993.
The 34-year-old certainly led from the front as his perfect assist to Lautaro Martinez gave Argentina their first goal of the contest. While Columbia did score an equalizer and the match went into penalties, Messi stepped up to take the first penalty and dispatched it cleanly to set up the platform for goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez who saved three penalties as Argentina set up a grand finale clash with Brazil.
Not even a bleeding ankle can stop Messi this year
While Messi and co. were spectacular, there was something more into it that makes the performance of their captain even more praiseworthy. With Columbia known to play some aggressive football, as many as six of their players received yellow cards in the match for their rash tackles. And interestingly, all the fouls came on one man - Lionel Messi. The Argentine skipper was bombarded with rash tackles throughout the match.
During one of the tackles by Frank Fabra in the 55th minute, Lionel Messi got so hurt that his ankle started bleeding. However, Messi had no plans of leaving the field as this was probably his last opportunity to guide his side to Copa America triumph that he has been waiting for so long. The Barcelona magician played more than 30 minutes of the game with the injury as the pictures of his ankle bleeding went viral on social media.
Messi finished the match with nine successful dribbles, five key passes, two big chances created, one assist and one penalty converted to take his side to the grand finale. The 34-year-old, who is certainly not too vocal with his expressions, certainly let his emotions out making it very clear to everyone that he really wants it this time around. Messi and co. are just one step away from creating history as they face hosts Brazil in the final showdown set to be played on Sunday, IST 5:30 AM onwards.