Lionel Messi avoided another disappointment with the national team as Argentina escaped elimination in the group stage of the Copa America. Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero scored a goal in each half as Argentina defeated guest team Qatar 2-0 to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the South American competition. Argentina finished second in Group B behind Colombia, which did Argentina a huge favor by beating Paraguay 1-0 in the other group match on Sunday (Jun 23).
Sergio Aguero sealed an unconvincing Argentina side's passage into the quarter-finals of the Copa America as they saw off Qatar in Porto Alegre.
Aguero's late right-foot drive from 15 yards sealed a 2-0 win after Lautaro Martinez netted in the third minute.
Bassam Al-Rawi, whose misplaced pass had allowed Martinez to score, hit the post for Qatar, who are eliminated.
Lionel Scaloni's side finish second in Group B behind Colombia, and will face Venezuela in the last eight.
Meanwhile, group winners Colombia's 1-0 win over third-placed Paraguay ensured Argentina's progress.
A 2-0 defeat by Colombia and a 1-1 draw with Paraguay had meant that Argentina had to beat the group's bottom side Qatar to a avoid a humiliating group-stage exit from the competition.
However, it was far from a comfortable evening for the two-time World Cup winners against the 2022 World Cup hosts, who are ranked 55th in the world - despite making the perfect start, with 21-year-old Inter Milan forward Martinez scoring so early.
Manchester City forward Aguero and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who produced an underwhelming performance, both missed excellent opportunities while Qatar threatened on the counter-attack until Aguero's late intervention.
Argentina now face Venezuela in their quarter-final on Friday (Jun 28) at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.