Brazil strikes out Argentina

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Brazil's goal celebration against Argentina in 2019 Copa America

Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino saw Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday night to advance to the final of the Copa America.

The Manchester City forward gave Tite’s team the lead after 19 minutes following a superb driving run by Dani Alves, the 22-year-old striker finding space at the far post to slot home a cross from Firmino to open the scoring in front of a noisy crowd at the Estadio Mineirao.

Jesus’ club colleague Sergio Aguero headed against the crossbar later in the half and Lionel Messi hit the post in the second period as Argentina sought a way back into the game.

But Brazil continued to look dangerous on the break and as Aguero went down in the box for what the Albiceleste believed should have been a penalty for a foul by Alves.

The hosts stormed up field and netted the second when Jesus went clear and unselfishly laid the ball off for Firmino for an easier finish past Franco Armani after 71 minutes.

Brazil did not look threatened again, and the hosts have still not conceded a goal in this competition.​

Tite’s team will meet either Chile or Peru in the final at the Maracana on Sunday, with the second semi-final to be played in Porto Alegre on Wednesday night.

Lionel Messi hit out at the match officials after a match that was marked by a number of controversial incidents – including possible fouls in the lead-up to the two goals and another penalty appeal which was not even looked at by the video assistant referee.

Argentina thought there was a foul on Lautaro Martinez in the build-up to the opening goal, scored by Gabriel Jesus after 19 minutes, while the Albiceleste players saw two penalty shouts waved away in the second half.

The first of those was for what looked like a clear Dani Alves foul on Sergio Aguero, which took place in the very move which led to Roberto Firmino’s goal after 71 minutes.

While the second came following what appeared to be a deliberate shove by Arthur on Nicolas Otamendi.

Neither of those were assessed by VAR and Messi was left frustrated after the game.

“The officiating was crazy,” he said. “There were clear penalties, on Otamendi, on ‘Kun’ (Aguero). He was on their side: in every divided ball or dispute, he inclined the pitch their way.” 

“It’s not an excuse, but the truth is that, in this Copa, they kept on blowing for stupid things, for handballs, penalties. But today, they didn’t even go to VAR when there were clear plays that should have been looked at.”

Argentina will play the third-place game on Saturday in São Paulo against either two-time defending champions Chile or Peru.