NEW JERSEY: Argentina became the first nation to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the 2024 Copa America as Lautaro Martinez’s late strike delivered victory against Chile.

The defending champions were dominant throughout at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, with 22 shots.

Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez and Fiorentina midfielder Nicolas Gonzalez were the first to test Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, setting the tone early on.

Argentina’s best opportunity of the first half fell to talisman Lionel Messi but the Inter Miami star was denied by the post.

The pattern of play remained the same after the break with Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister spurning a golden opportunity.

It took until the 72nd minute for Chile to register their first attempt at goal, Rodrigo Echeverria forcing a save out of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

That chance seemed to spark Chile into life. Echeverria and Marcelino Nunez both tested Aston Villa number one Martinez as Chile looked to end a winless run of 30 games against Argentina at the Copa America.

With the game heading towards a frustrating draw, Inter Milan striker Martinez broke the deadlock in the 88th minute.

Martinez, who also scored after coming on as a substitute in Friday’s 2-0 win against Canada, reacted quickest to a loose ball in a crowded penalty area after Chile failed to deal with Messi’s corner.

“These matches are always like this, we have to continue in the same way, treating the matches in this way, as they are all going to be complicated,” Martinez told TyC Sports.

“Everything was tight, they set up lines of five at times but we are happy we ended up taking the three points, which is what we wanted.”

Argentina are top of Group A and are guaranteed a top-two finish with a match to spare. They play their final group game against Peru on Sunday (01:00 BST).

Canada claim maiden Copa America win

Earlier in Group A, Canada picked up their first Copa America win with a 1-0 victory over Peru.

Lille striker Jonathan David scored the crucial goal – the first since manager Jesse Marsch was appointed in May – in sweltering conditions at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.

Temperatures reached 38C and assistant referee Humberto Panjoj had to be replaced after collapsing late in the first half.

Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau saved a Piero Quispe effort before Gianluca Lapadula had a goal ruled out for offside for Peru.

The momentum shifted in Canada’s favour after Peru defender Miguel Araujo was shown a red card in the 59th minute for a heavy challenge on Jacob Shaffelburg.

David scored with Canada’s first shot on target 15 minutes later .

Canada end their group campaign against Chile on Sunday.

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