Argentina beat Paraguay to secure a place in Copa America knockout stage
Papu Gomez scored in the 10th minute as Argentina beat Paraguay 1-0 on Monday and secured its place in the Copa America knockout stage.
Argentina have now moved atop Group A with seven points from three matches. The game also gave Lionel Messi a record 147th cap for the national team, equalling the mark of retired defender Javier Mascherano.
Messi, seeking his first major title with the national team, had to work with a team impacted by six changes in the starting lineup.
Defenders German Pezzella and Nicolas Tagliafico, midfielders Rodrigo de Paul and Leandro Paredes; and forwards Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria started. Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, Lautaro Martinez and Nico Gonzalez were left out of the starting lineup.
The changes did not stop Argentina from starting strongly. Early in the game, Messi found Di Maria on the right, and the veteran winger eluded the Paraguayan defense with an assist to Gomez. The striker lifted a shot over Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva.
Argentina forced Silva to make important saves in the first half but the energy of the team waned in the second half, as it has in several recent matches.
Argentina's last group-stage match will be on Monday against Bolivia. Paraguay will take on Chile on Thursday. The top four in each five-team group will advance.