BARQUISIMENTO, Venezuela, July 8 - Juan Roman Riquelme scored two goals
and set up another with a stunning pass as Argentina routed Peru 4-0 in their
Copa America quarter-final on Sunday.
Peru had held out until halftime but Riquelme broke the deadlock with an
outstanding goal and then provided an equally impressive pass for Lionel Messi
to add the second.
Javier Mascherano and Riquelme added two more as the tournament favourites
earned a semi-final tie against Mexico.
Peru were gifted an early chance when Gabriel Heinze gave the ball away on
the edge of his own penalty area but Paulo Guerrero's shot went over.
Guerrero was a headache for the Argentina defence and Roberto Ayala was lucky
not to be sent off for pulling him down when he had a clear run on goal.
Messi, given a rapturous reception by the crowd, had Argentina's best
first-half chances, hitting the post in the 18th minute with a shot that
deflected off goalkeeper Leao Butron and then having another cleared off the
line by Edgar Villamarin.
Argentina introduced Carlos Tevez for Diego Milito at halftime and shortly
after the restart Riquelme, running across the face of the area, collected a
pass in his stride and scored with a powerful low drive into the bottom
Tevez then headed against the crossbar before Riquelme sliced open the Peru
defence with a slide-rule pass and found Messi, who eluded Butron to score his
first goal of the tournament in the 61st minute.
Mascherano, who scored his first Argentina goal in the 1-0 win over Paraguay
on Thursday, hit the target for the second game in a row as he snapped up a
rebound in the 75th minute.
Argentina were not finished and scored the fourth goal from a stunning
counter attack started by Roberto Abbondanzieri, who raced out of his goal and
found Tevez with a pass down the touchline.
Tevez held off his marker and laid the ball off to Riquelme, who nonchalantly
added the fourth.