Football News Lionel Messi scores twice, Argentina warm-up for Copa America with 5-1 win over Nicaragua

first_imgArgentina have not won a major trophy since 1993.Argentina plays Colombia in Salvador before taking on Paraguay and Asian champions Qatar.Nicaragua are competing in the Gold Cup for the second time. highlights San Juan: Lionel Messi scored a first-half double as Argentina warmed up for the Copa America with a comprehensive 5-1 win over Nicaragua on Friday in San Juan. The Central Americans, who will participate in this month’s Gold Cup tournament while Argentina battles it out in Brazil, frustrated the home side initially. But it was left to captain Messi to spark his side into action in their only warm-up match ahead of the tournament, expertly opening the scoring on 37 minutes before grabbing another just 96 seconds later. Lautaro Martinez, the Inter Milan forward, also scored twice, coming off the substitutes bench at half-time to give coach Lionel Scaloni food for thought ahead of the opening match with Colombia on June 15. Scaloni, brought in after Jorge Sampaoli was sacked following a disastrous showing at the World Cup last summer, is aiming to build a younger team and end Argentina’s 26-year wait for a trophy.     Indeed, in Scaloni’s Copa America squad only Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria remain from the one that was beaten by Germany in the World Cup final in Rio five years ago. An on-song Messi, however, is needed for the South Americans to prosper over the next few weeks. Messi has lost three Copa finals — 2007, 2015 and 2016 — and the last time Argentina won an international title was in the same competition back in 1993 when the diminutive forward was just six years old. They have reached four of the last five finals.  With Brazil missing the injured Neymar for the showpiece event, which starts on June 14, Argentina is one of the favourites.RELATED     Early on in Friday’s first meeting between Argentina and Nicaragua, Scaloni’s team failed to inspire in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,000 at San Juan del Bicentenario stadium in San Juan, Argentina. Aguero looked dangerous in the opening stages and Messi really should have done better on 12 minutes when he uncharacteristically shot wide from close range. Nicaragua, however, were defending well while regularly asserting their physicality — Messi was twice hauled down in the opening half hour — to frustrate Argentina and their supporters. River Plate’s Matias Suarez had a shot pushed onto the post by visiting keeper Justo Lorente on 26 minutes but the two time World Champions were being made to work hard for openings.     Nicaragua, ranked 129th in the world and competing in their second successive Gold Cup, will prove a stern test for Costa Rica, Haiti and Bermuda despite this thrashing. They have yet to win a game in two appearances at the tournament — lost six with just one goal scored — but won’t go down without a fight. Messi, however, is a danger for any team and his brilliant run and finish saw the Barcelona star beat three defenders before clinically finishing past Lorente. He grabbed his second soon after when Aguero’s shot was parried. Scaloni withdrew key men Messi and Aguero at half-time, which allowed Martinez, 21, to impress with a well-taken effort on 63 and 72 minutes.     Watford’s Roberto Pereyra made it five with nine minutes remaining while Nicaragua’s deserved consolation came through Juan Barrera’s late penalty. Argentina plays Colombia in Salvador before taking on Paraguay and Asian champions Qatar in Group B.center_img For all the Latest Sports News News, Football News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.last_img read more

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PCP Most important Badger?

first_imgSolochek:As the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team prepares to finish up its season and make a run at the NCAA tournament, it will need to be clicking on all cylinders to make sure it gets a berth in the Big Dance.While essential players like Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft will continue to play as well as they have been during their four-game winning streak and display their senior leadership, it will be up to the rest of the team to make sure they stay hot.In particular, junior forward Jon Leuer needs to keep playing as well as he has for the Badgers to make their postseason push.Leuer’s impact on the team cannot be understated. During the Badgers’ six-game losing streak, Leuer averaged just 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game off the bench. The streak also included three straight games when he scored under five points.As the Badgers have begun winning, Leuer’s stats have picked up. Since their 63-50 win against Illinois at the Kohl Center, Leuer has been averaging 10.3 points and 5.75 rebounds per game, including a 15-point performance against the Fighting Illini.So far, Leuer hasn’t just come in with big numbers. He has been able to provide Wisconsin with a seamless transition between Keaton Nankivil, who has not started because of a leg injury sustained during practice, and himself. He also provides another big body down low to help the Badgers continue to dominate on the glass on both sides of the floor.So, if you are looking for an X-factor for the Badgers going into the conference and NCAA tournament, Leuer is your man.Braun: I don’t want to bash Jon Leuer or anything because I think he’s a great player. I really do. I just don’t think he’s the most important one on the Badgers.He’s scoring a bit more recently, rebounding better and doing a better job in the post, but if you really want to look at the Badgers’ most important player, it has to be their team leader, senior forward Joe Krabbenhoft.Whether it’s hitting the big three to secure a big victory, setting a hard screen on a rival Purdue guard or forcing Ohio State star Evan Turner to commit six turnovers, Krabbenhoft can pretty much do it all.He pumps up the team when it’s down, he’s the vocal leader in the huddle and in the locker room, and he will do whatever it takes to get the job done.The numbers might not necessarily be there — he only averages 8.5 points per game — but his hustle points aren’t taken into consideration.Every Badger fan knows Krabbenhoft as the first guy to dive on the court to secure a loose ball, and UW head coach Bo Ryan will be the first one to tell you Krabbenhoft isn’t afraid to get bloody.Leuer might get to Krabbenhoft status one day, but for now, it looks like he’s just going to have to wait. To get there he’ll have to hit a clutch shot or two and be a little more vocal when the team needs it most.So who’s the most important player on the Badgers? All you have to do is look on the court, because chances are Krabbenhoft will be making his case.last_img read more

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