SEATTLE, June 15: Argentina took top spot by beating Bolivia 3-0 in Group D, while Chile advanced to the Copa America quarterfinals on Tuesday after a 4-2 win over Panama.
By the time Lionel Messi checked in at halftime, Erik Lamela, Ezequiel Lavezzi and the rest of his teammates had Argentina well on its way to the top spot in Group D of the Copa America Centenario.
Lamela and Lavezzi scored two minutes apart early in the first half, Victor Cuesta scored his first international goal later in the half and Argentina dominated Bolivia 3-0 to be the only team in the entire tournament to win all three group games.
Messi subbed on at the beginning of the second half for his most extensive game action since Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-0 to win the Copa del Rey on May 22.
In the time since, Messi suffered a back injury, testified in his tax fraud trial in Spain and scored a hattrick off the bench in a 5-0 win over Panama last week.
But the goals came from his teammates as Argentina clinched a matchup with Venezuela in the quarterfinals. And all that dominance came with Messi relaxing on the bench, hearing his name chanted by the crowd throughout the first half as they eagerly anticipated the chance to see the best player of this generation coming off a memorable reserve performance just a few days earlier against Panama.
�People want to see him. People pay all over the world to see him and he has to deal with that,� Argentina manager Gerardo Martino said through an interpreter. �Sometimes he has to play and sometimes he has to be on the bench but he has that obligation to follow through for the fans who are paying to be there. He has to live with that.�
Chile win 4-2 against Panama:
Chile went behind to an early goal but roared back thanks to outstanding performances from their front pair, who ran the Panamanian defence ragged.
Panama took the lead in the fourth minute after a mistake by Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who let Miguel Camargo�s shot from almost 30 yards squirm through his hands and into the net.
After two goals in the first half from Eduardo Vargas and two in the second from Alexis Sanchez gave them a 4-2 win over Panama.
Defending champions Chile will play Mexico in the next round on Saturday with Argentina facing Venezuela the same day. � Agencies