Messi dazzles for Argentina with stunning Copa America quarter-final free kick against Ecuador
Lionel Messi scored a free kick to cap Argentina's 3-0 victory over Ecuador on Saturday in the Copa America quarter-finals, with his performance drawing effusive praise from his team-mates.
The forward also assisted the other two goals - once without looking at his target as he made the pass - in a man of the match effort that prompted Nico Gonzalez to say the entire squad draws "confidence and joy" from his play.
Argentina will face Colombia in the final four on Tuesday, and Messi will try to build on his output of four goals and four assists so far in the tournament.
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What has been said?
"Messi surprises us day by day, he gets stronger and stronger and infects us all," said forward Gonzalez. "He gives us confidence and joy. You have to continue down this path and enjoy it."
Inter forward Lautaro Martinez added: "We all follow Messi's leadership. Today we saw again how he makes a difference and we are all accompanying him."
"I always say it: individual [moments] are secondary, we are here for something else," he said. "I want to congratulate the group for the work they are doing - we have been away from our families for many days."
All signs now point to a Brazil vs Argentina final, as the powerhouse sides have ripped through their respective fixtures and now stand just one more win from facing each another with the Copa America trophy up for grabs.
Messi and Neymar have lived up to expectations to help their nations advance to this stage.
The Selecao will play Peru in the semi-final, while the Albiceleste will take on Colombia.