Gonzalo Higuain gives Argentina modest 1-0 win over Jamaica
Lionel Messi’s team now progress into the quarter-finals of the Copa America
Argentina’s forward Gonzalo Higuain leaps over Jamaica’s goalkeeper Dwayne Miller during their 2015 Copa America football championship match, in Vina del Mar. Photo: Getty Images
An early goal from Gonzalo Higuain was enough to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Jamaica at the Copa America on Saturday and secure their place in the quarter-finals as winners of Group B.
Higuain collected a pass from Angel di Maria in the 11th minute and turned his marker in the box before firing a low shot past Dwayne Miller in the Jamaican goal.
The Argentines looks set for a goal-feast but despite dominating possession could not add to their tally in what was Lionel Messi’s 100th appearance for his country.
“We had phases when we were in good form that give us reason for optimism,” said coach Gerardo Martino said. “If we have games that are more like the second half today then evidently we are going to have problems.”
Martino’s side will find out on Sunday who they meet in the next round, as will Paraguay who finished second in the group.
“The important thing was to secure qualification and we did that,” Higuain said.
“Now we need to rest mentally and prepare for the quarter-finals which will be very tough.”
Argentina’s victory meant Uruguay finished third and will face Chile in the quarter-finals in Santiago next Wednesday.
Jamaica are eliminated having lost all three of their matches 1-0, though their German coach Winfried Schafer was pleased with their progress.
“I am very proud of my team, we had too much respect for Argentina in the first half, but more courage in the second,” said Schafer.
“For us it was a very good tournament, we know what we have to do, now I can build a very good team.”
Once Higuain put them ahead, the Argentines looked certain to win comfortably.
The Napoli striker almost added a second in the 22nd minute but his lob bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind the goal.
Di Maria also rattled the crossbar before halftime and Messi came close with a rasping drive that whistled past Miller’s right-hand post.
Argentina dominated the first 45 minutes in terms of possession and shots on goal but seemed to run out of ideas after the break and the match ended with the Jamaicans bombarding the Argentine goal in search of an equaliser.
Messi’s 100th cap will not be remembered as one of the better matches of his glittering career.
At the age of just 27, he becomes only the fifth player from his country to hit triple figures.