Angel Di Maria backs Barcelona star's Copa America displays

Argentina's Lionel Messi strokes his beard prior a Copa America Group B soccer match against Qatar at Arena do Gremio Porto Alegre Brazil Sunday

Copa America match report Veneuzela v Argentina

Angel Di Maria believes that Lionel Messi is playing well for Argentina despite the No.10 not quite grabbing headlines in his usual manner at this summer's Copa America.

The second half saw Venezuela look like the stronger side as it threatened time and time again, but the team could only register one shot on goal before Lo Celso killed the game off with 16 minutes remaining.

They face Venezuela in Rio de Janeiro on Friday night knowing that a victory will set up a semi-final on Tuesday against hosts Brazil.

Lo Celso's tap-in sealed a therapeutic win for Argentina in their first game back at the iconic Maracana stadium since their 1-0 extra-time defeat to Germany, which began a cycle of three consecutive losses in major finals.

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Argentina remain on track to reach a second consecutive Copa America final, and they will be keen to go one step further this year and lift the trophy when all is said and done. "It is always more complicated for us that want to attack, do something different when we have the ball, dribble the opposition".

Argentina had scraped into the last eight with a nervy 2-0 win over Qatar in their final group-stage game after losing to Colombia and drawing with Paraguay, but they expected a sterner test from Venezuela.

But they failed to live up to the hype and barely got into Argentina's area before halftime. "The ball bounces poorly, we can't carry it".

"But we had a great Copa America, we're improving, next up is (World Cup) qualifying and we'll give it everything".

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"We didn't leave them any spaces when they went looking for them".

The only missing part for Argentina was its superstar, who made more news in his home country on Friday for at last singing his national anthem before the match than for his skills.

It will be the 111 meeting between the two rival nations, with Brazil winning 40 and Argentina making 38.

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