When Lionel Messi is really in the mood there is little an opposition defence can do to stop him and for all of Venezuela’s confident pre-match talk and Rafael Dudamel’s tactical tweaking of his midfield, the world’s best player orchestrated an Argentina victory which books a semi final clash on Tuesday against the United States.
Dudamel opted to name a three-man midfield in an attempt to stifle Messi’s ability to run inside and operate in the space behind Gonzalo Higuaín but almost immediately it was clear that it wouldn’t be quite so straight forward.
Messi had already threatened with a couple of darting runs before dropping deep on the right in the eighth minute and delivering a pass of surgical precision for Gonzalo Higuaín to run onto and strike first time past the helpless Daniel Hernández.
Solomán Rondón was causing a few problems of his own at the other end and drew an excellent stop from Sergio Romero but it was La Albiceleste who continued to probe and looked like adding a second.
Referee Roberto García spared Venezuela when he waved away a clear penalty for a foul on Messi but it only served to delay the inevitable.
An awful backpass by Arquimedes Figuera was eagerly snapped up by Higuaín and the in-form Napoli striker rounded Hernández to roll in number two.