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Argentina down Mexico to book Copa clash with Brazil

Heinze, Messi and Riquelme all score as Alfio Basile's side outgun Mexico to set up a tantalizing final with the defending champions.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2007 06:15 PM IST

Argentina defeated Mexico 3-0 at Ciudad Guayana on Wednesday to set up a tantalizing Copa America final with defending champions Brazil.

Gabriel Heinze, Lionel Messi and Juan Roman Riquelme all scored as Alfio Basile's side outgunned Mexico to book their place in Sunday's showpiece encounter at the Jose Pachencho Romero Stadium in Maracaibo.

After Argentina had taken the lead at the stroke of halftime, Messi's superb goal in the 61st minute doubled the lead.

He collected a pass from Carlos Tevez on the right side of the area and lofted a left-footed chip over Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

Minutes later, Rafael Marquez fouled Tevez in the area and Riquelme converted the penalty in the 66th minute to seal the victory.

Argentina looked the most threatening in the early stages, but it was Mexico who had the first clear chance when Juan Carlos Cacho took advantage of a defensive mistake but fired over the crossbar.

Javier Zanetti responded for the South Americans, but the Internazionale midfielder shot weakly after creating an opening for himself. West Ham striker Tevez went close minutes later after escaping the attention of two defenders.

Mexico almost took the lead in the 35th minute, when Andres Guardado hit the right post before Tevez shot straight at goalkeeper Sanchez after combining well with Riquelme.

Argentina edged ahead just at the interval, when Manchester United's Heinze scored from a free kick floated into the box by Riquelme.

Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez brought on Omar Bravo and Alberto Medina at halftime in search of an equalizer, and his team very nearly found it 10 minutes into the second period.

But Nery Castillo was unlucky to see his shot come back off the bar.

Argentina threatened for a fourth goal as substitute Rodrigo Palacio fired over over the bar, and Messi saw an effort drift wide of the left post late.

On Sunday, Argentina will be bidding for a record 15th Copa America title against seven-times and reigning champins Brazil, who defeated Uruguay 5-4 on penalties on Tuesday in the first semi-final, which ended 2-2 after regular time.

Mexico and Uruguay will play for third place on Saturday in Caracas.

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