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Firmino punish Argentina


Gabriel Jesus celebrates opening the scoring
Brazil reached their first Copa America final since 2007 with a 2-0 semi-final win over South American superpower rivals Argentina.
This classic international fixture lived up to the billing as goals from Gabriel Jesus (19) and Roberto Firmino (71) mean Argentina's 26-year wait for some major silverware goes on.
It could also spell the end of Lionel Messi's international career but things may had been different if Sergio Aguero and the Barcelona forward himself were not denied by the woodwork at key points in the encounter.
Messi stood by himself and looked in despair after the final whistle at the Mineiro Stadium.
Brazil will play Chile or Peru in Sunday's final.


Player Ratings
Brazil: Alisson (7), Dani Alves (9), Marquinhos (7), Thiago Silva (7), Alex Sandro (7), Arthur (7), Casemiro (8), Jesus (8), Coutinho (8), Everton (6), Firmino (8)
Subs used: Miranda (7), Willian (N/A), Allan (N/A)
Argentina: Armani (6), Foyth (5), Pezzella (6), Otamendi (5), Tagliafico (5), De Paul (6), Paredes (6), Acúña (6), Messi (7), Lautaro (7), Aguero (6)
Subs used: Di Maria (6), Lo Celso (6), Dybala (N/A)


Man of the match: Dani Alves


How Brazil stifled Messi...
The early pace was electric with both teams crashing into tackles resulting in the first 10 minutes producing 10 fouls. Leandro Paredes slapped a 30-yard effort just wide of the post before Brazil cut open their opponents to take the lead.
Dani Alves skilfully manoeuvred his way down the right and found Firmino. His low cross allowed Jesus to tap home from close range.
The visitors nearly levelled on the half-hour mark when Messi's free-kick was flicked onto the crossbar by Aguero and somehow the rebound could not be forced home by a blue and white shirt.
Brazil seemed happy to sit back and allow their defence to take centre stage. It was a dangerous ploy with Messi growing into the contest but his strike from 15 yards on 57 minutes came crashing back off the post.
With Argentina pushing on, Brazil caught them cold to score from just their fourth shot on goal.
Jesus drove down the left and repaid the favour to Firmino by finding his strike partner with a perfect ball across the face. The Liverpool man did not miss.
Argentina - and Messi - had no answers.


Man of the match: Dani Alves
Dani Alves belied his advancing years with a sublime display
It's quite remarkable the 36-year-old can still perform at such a high level. He looks as good as ever, full of his usual enthusiasm and drive down the right flank. Jesus and Firmino will receive most of the plaudits for their quality in the final third but it was Alves that provided the game-changing moment at 0-0. His turn of pace and skill opened up the Argentina defence down the right, which allowed Firmino and Jesus to combine.
Some of Europe's biggest clubs will have been watching this performance with interest - remember, Alves is a free agent having left Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
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