Sports

Copa America: Messi goes missing as Rodriguez leads Colombia to win over Argentina

James Rodriguez got the best of Lionel Messi in the Copa America on Saturday, leading Colombia to a 2-0 win over Argentina in the teams' debut in the South American tournament.

Rodriguez set up Roger Martinez's opening goal in the second half with a superb long pass across the pitch, and substitute Duvan Zapata scored late to seal the victory that allowed Colombia to end a 12-year winless streak against the Argentines.Messi couldn't do enough to spark Argentina, which lost its first Copa America match since the 2007 final against Brazil. It was also the team's first opening defeat in the tournament since 1979.

"Our best player was the entire team," said Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz. "The next match will certainly be more difficult, this is only the beginning."Both Argentina and Colombia are trying to end title droughts, with the Argentines winless since the 1993 Copa America and the Colombians without a trophy since the 2001 edition.

Argentina lost the finals of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, where it lost both of the latter in penalty shootouts against Chile.Colombia's last win over Argentina was in South American qualifying for the World Cup in 2007.

"It had been a long time (without beating Argentina)," Zapata said. "Everyone in Colombia is very happy, but there is still a long way to go in the Copa, we still have important matches ahead."Messi and Rodriguez had a mostly quiet match in Salvador, but Rodriguez helped Colombia take the lead thanks to his great assist for Martinez's 71st-minute opener. 

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