Teamwork makes the dream work

Lionel Messi returns for Argentina in 1-0 Copa América warmup victory over Ecuador


Angel Di Maria scored as Lionel Messi returned to the worldwide stage for the primary time in six months, serving to Argentina to a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in a Copa America warmup match on Sunday night time.

Messi was sidelined for the primary half earlier than changing Di Maria within the 56th minute. A proper hamstring damage saved the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner and Inter Miami star from collaborating in Argentina’s earlier two Copa America warmup matches in opposition to El Salvador and Costa Rica in March.

“Typically there isn’t any must danger it, not solely with Leo. It’s about caring for them in order that they arrive in optimum circumstances,” Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni mentioned of his resolution to take a seat Messi for the primary half.

With Messi watching from the bench, Di Maria despatched a reverse cross from Christian Romero into the online to open the scoring within the fortieth minute.

“It helps to play in opposition to a rival like that, particularly as a result of Ecuador performs at a excessive degree, they make it troublesome for anybody,” Scaloni mentioned. “And we wanted to get collectively, compete, add minutes and really feel the feeling of placing on the shirt earlier than a Cup that’s going to be troublesome.”

It was Di Maria’s second consecutive purpose in a global match. He additionally scored in opposition to Costa Rica on March 26. With the thirty first purpose of his Argentina profession, the 36-year-old midfielder is tied with Gonzalo Higuain for the fifth-most targets within the nation’s historical past and sits simply 4 scores behind Diego Maradona at No. 4 on the leaderboard.

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Argentina — the reigning World Cup and Copa América champion — hasn’t fallen in its final seven conferences with Ecuador, a streak courting again to 2019.

“The purpose is to proceed competing, and these guys have competing of their blood,” Scaloni mentioned. “Typically it seems effectively and different instances it does not end up effectively. However it’s a must to preserve enjoying. There are all the time issues to play for. Now the Copa América, then the qualifiers. … Our purpose is all the time to compete at our greatest.”

Reporting by The Related Press.

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