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Copa America: Lionel Messi and Argentina steamroller Venezuela, 4-1

Big night for Lionel Messi and Argentina.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Argentina ruined Venezuela's impressive defensive record at Copa America Centenario with a 4-1 drubbing in California. La Albiceleste came out hot (Lionel Messi to Gonzalo Higuain in the 8th minute)...

...and never (Higuain, with a little help from Venezuela's back line)...

...let up (Messi to Nicolas Gaitan to Messi in the 60th minute)...

Three unanswered goals by the 60th minute against what had been one of the more effective defenses in the tournament was a powerful affirmation of Argentina's tournament-favorite credentials.

Venezuela had chances - none better than the penalty late in the first half that Luis Seijas tamely chipped into 'keeper Sergio Romero's arms.

When La Vinotinto did finally get on the board in the 70th minute (Alejandro Guerra to Salomon Rondon)...

...Erik Lamela crushed hope of a comeback in the 71st (played in by Messi again).

Argentina heads to Houston to play host nation USA in the semifinals, targeting a fourth final in its last five Copa America tournaments (including this one).