‘Another Copa begins now’ – Messi sees Argentina growing after vital win over Qatar

Lionel Messi Argentina Qatar Copa America 240619
The Albiceleste made hard work of booking their place in the quarter-finals, but they are safely through and looking to build from this point

Lionel Messi has declared that “another Copa begins now” for Argentina after seeing them scrape their way into the quarter-finals.

An opening defeat to Colombia and disappointing draw with Paraguay had left the Albiceleste sweating on progress to the knockout stage.

They were, however, to complete their Group B campaign with a welcome 2-0 victory over Qatar.

That was enough to secure second spot behind Colombia, with Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero grabbing priceless goals for Lionel Scaloni’s side.

Much improvement is still required in order for Argentina to challenge for the overall prize in Brazil, but they have at least given themselves a chance.

Messi is looking to take positives from that, with the Barcelona superstar now preparing for a last-eight encounter with Venezuela on Sunday.

He told reporters after seeing off Qatar: "The important thing was to win to keep going in the Copa, to get through the group stage.

"This will be an important boost for what's to come ... another Copa begins now.

"This victory must give us strength and make us grow as a team."

Messi admitted that there had been nerves in the Argentina camp heading into a must-win encounter, adding: "It's tough playing this kind of game due to the necessity, the obligation [to win], the fear of missing out.

"But beyond that we played well and went through, which is what matters."

Sergio Kun Aguero Argentina Qatar Copa America 23062019

Martinez ensured that Argentina got off to the perfect start inside four minutes.

Manchester City striker Aguero than wrapped up the win eight minutes from time, with the 31-year-old recalled after being dropped for the 1-1 draw with Paraguay.

He said: "Luckily I was picked to start and luckily at times the three of us worked well together and we won."

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While happy to have progressed out of the group, Aguero is aware that Argentina will need to raise their game against Venezuela.

Scaloni’s side suffered a 3-1 defeat to the same opponents the last time they squared off in a friendly contest back in March.

"They're quite tough opponents who counter-attack really well and we'll try to be wise to that," said Aguero.