An early goal from Gonzalo Higuain was enough to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Jamaica at the Copa America on Saturday and secure their place in the quarter-finals as winners of Group B.
Higuain collected a pass from Angel di Maria in the 11th minute and turned his marker in the box before firing a low shot past Dwayne Miller in the Jamaican goal.
The Argentines looks set for a goal-feast but despite dominating possession could not add to their tally in what was Lionel Messi’s 100th appearance for his country.
“We had phases when we were in good form that give us reason for optimism,” said coach Gerardo Martino said. “If we have games that are more like the second half today then evidently we are going to have problems.”
Martino’s side will find out on Sunday who they meet in the next round, as will Paraguay who finished second in the group.
“The important thing was to secure qualification and we did that,” Higuain said.
“Now we need to rest mentally and prepare for the quarter-finals which will be very tough.”
Argentina’s victory meant Uruguay finished third and will face Chile in the quarter-finals in Santiago next Wednesday.
Jamaica are eliminated having lost all three of their matches 1-0, though their German coach Winfried Schafer was pleased with their progress.
“I am very proud of my team, we had too much respect for Argentina in the first half, but more courage in the second,” said Schafer.
“For us it was a very good tournament, we know what we have to do, now I can build a very good team.”
Once Higuain put them ahead, the Argentines looked certain to win comfortably.
The Napoli striker almost added a second in the 22nd minute but his lob bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind the goal.
Di Maria also rattled the crossbar before halftime and Messi came close with a rasping drive that whistled past Miller’s right-hand post.
Argentina dominated the first 45 minutes in terms of possession and shots on goal but seemed to run out of ideas after the break and the match ended with the Jamaicans bombarding the Argentine goal in search of an equaliser.
Messi’s 100th cap will not be remembered as one of the better matches of his glittering caree
Centre back Jose Maria Gimenez put holders Uruguay in front after 29 minutes with a header from Carlos Sanchez’ corner, the ball going in off the post.
Paraguay equalised on the stroke of halftime from a corner taken by Edgar Benitez that striker Lucas Barrios nodded emphatically past Fernando Muslera.