Copa America: Messi equals Batistuta’s Argentina record

Lionel Messi scored a record-equalling 54th international goal as Argentina beat Venezuela 4-1 to reach the Copa America semi-finals.

Messi’s fourth goal of the tournament puts him level with Gabriel Batistuta.

The Barcelona forward, 28, also created goals for Gonzalo Higuain, who scored twice, and Erik Lamela to set up a last-four meeting with hosts USA.

Holders Chile will face Colombia in the other semi-final after inflicting a record 7-0 defeat on Mexico.

Four goals for Eduardo Vargas helped Chile top Mexico’s previous record loss at a major tournament – a 6-0 defeat by West Germany in the 1978 World Cup.

Edson Puch also scored twice for the defending champions, with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez completing the rout.

The competition’s centenary edition gives Argentina, also runners-up in the 2014 World Cup, a chance to avenge last year’s final loss and win a first trophy in 23 years.

“For us to be back in another semi-final of a big tournament like this one is a great achievement for these players,” said Messi.

“I’m happy for what it means and it’s nice to be next to ‘Batigol’ [Batistuta], but for me the most important thing is the result.”

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