Salvador: Lionel Messi has regretted Argentina’s loss in their Copa America opener against Colombia and said that the team must take in the positive aspects of the match and guaranteed that there would be many chances to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“It will take us a while to assimilate this defeat and accept it,” said Messi on Saturday, who is also the captain of the team, as he discussed the 0-2 defeat to Colombia on the first day of matches in Group B, which also includes Paraguay and Qatar.
“You have to take the positive things from the mistakes made,” Messi said after the match that was played at the Fonte Nova Arena stadium in Salvador in northeastern Brazil.
The Barcelona star said he regretted the fact that the two goals scored by Colombia — in the 70th and 86th minutes — occurred at a time when, in his opinion, Argentina was playing better.
“We have to think about getting up fast. There are still a lot of chances to qualify,” he added.
For Messi, the team coached by Lionel Scaloni must “raise its head and move on”.
Argentina’s journey in the group stage will end against Qatar in Porto Alegre on June 23, a day before Messi turns 32 years old.
Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata put a dent in Messi’s hopes of finally landing a major international title as Colombia began their campaign with a 2-0 win.
Martinez struck a stunning opener on 72 minutes and fellow substitute Zapata sealed the win three minutes from the end after Argentina had dominated the second half of this Group B encounter in Salvador.
On paper at least, this promised a thrilling attacking spectacle between two star-studded forward lines.
For Argentina, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi was joined by Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, while Colombia could count on James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado.
But it was two players who began the game on the bench that took the chance to steal the headlines.
It was a fast and furious opening that proved too helter skelter to produce any genuine chances.
Colombia, playing in a fluorescent blue and orange kit, were the first to really threaten on 16 minutes when Falcao laid off a Cuadrado cross for Martinez, whose shot was deflected behind.
Argentina created their best chance so far in the opening minute of the second period as Leandro Paredes let fly from 30 yards, sending the ball whistling past the post with goalkeeper David Ospina scrambling to his right.
Messi briefly came to life, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez to burst into the area, but the tireless Wilmar Barrios got back to crowd out the Barcelona superstar.
Argentina had their tails up and Paredes thrashed in a shot from an angle that Ospina did well to punch clear.
What had been a petulant affair threatened to boil over when Cuadrado was booked for a foul on Messi that sparked a brief melee of pushing and shoving.
In Porto Alegre, Venezuela and Peru began their Copa America with a nervous 0-0 draw in a stop-start match marked by two Peruvian goals chalked off after consultation with the Video Assistant Referee.
Christofer Gonzales’s 11th-minute goal was disallowed for offside earlier in the move and then Jefferson Farfan suffered the same fate 19 minutes into the second half after his header hit the net.
The goals were rare bright spots in a game in which Venezuela played the last 16 minutes with 10 men after Luis Mago was sent off.