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Colombia beat Argentina 2-0

Colombia beat Argentina 2-0

Roger Martinez scored an outstanding goal as Colombia beat Argentina 2-0 in a Copa America Group B opener on Saturday (Jun 15) that burst into life after a sluggish start.

In a match that featured a plethora of stars such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, it was Martinez who put Colombia up with a booming strike in the 71st minute.

The loss puts Argentina in an early hole at the tournament where they have finished runners-up in four the past five editions.

For Messi, it adds more pressure as the F. C. Barcelona star tries to win his first senior trophy at the international level.

Martinez's stunning strike came in the 71st minute and Martinez's fellow substitute Duvan Zapata made sure Colombia took all the points by pouncing from close range to knock in a cross from Jefferson Lerma 15 minutes later.

Colombia had looked stronger in the first half but Argentina were a different beast when Rodrigo de Paul replaced Angel Di Maria immediately after the interval and Messi was able to find space to cause some problems.

Messi wasted the best chance of the game before Martinez's piledriver broke the deadlock when he skewed a rebound wide from close range, and also went on a thrilling solo run into the area but could not get a shot away.

A mass brawl ensued when Messi was cut down by Colombia's Juan Cuadrado in the second half while Argentina midfielder Leandro Paredes fizzed two shots at goal.

A goal from Lionel Scaloni's side looked imminent but Colombia's usual talisman James Rodriguez split their defence with an impressive long pass to Martinez, who came on early in the game after Luis Muriel was forced off injured.

Martinez's stunning strike floored Argentina and although they came back with a couple more attempts, they never looked like scoring.

"We have to keep our heads high and think about what's next, because this is just the beginning and there's still a lot of Copa to be played," Messi said.

Colombia captain Falcao had high praise for opponent Messi after the match.

"Argentina is always a very difficult opponent and they have the best player in the world," Falcao said. "We had the challenge of beating them for the first time after a long time. We're in a maturation process and we were close, and we knew this was a good opportunity."

Argentina will next play against Paraguay in Belo Horizonte, while Colombia will face Qatar in Sao Paulo.

Colombia top Group B with three points ahead of Qatar's meeting with Paraguay on Sunday.

Earlier Saturday, Peru was held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in Group A, a result that left both teams two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo.