They all want to fight for him, he is truly loved and respected by the entire Argentine Team.

They all want to fight for him, he is truly loved and respected by the entire Argentine Team.

Who needs Lionel Messi when you have Lautaro Martinez? We’re kidding, obviously, but based on what we’ve seen so far in this Copa America, it may just be the Inter man that will be remembered as Argentina’s most important attacker this summer.

With Messi being rested, it was Martinez who stepped up once again in Argentina’s third and final group stage game, leading the way in a 2-0 win over Peru. With the win, Argentina made it a perfect nine points from nine in this initial phase, joining second-place Canada in the knockout phase without so much of a slip-up.

Martinez is the player most responsible for that, and he was at his best once again on Saturday night. The striker scored both, taking his total to four in three games as he furthered his case for the Golden Boot.

His first came just two minutes after halftime, as he ran onto a fantastic assist from Angel Di Maria. Then, with just a few minutes remaining, Martinez closed out the game, scoring in the 86th minute to ensure that there would be no real late drama in Miami on Thursday night.

It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective from Argentina, who are riding Martinez’s hot streak straight into the knockouts. Messi will be back for those, for sure, but, from what we’ve seen so far, Martinez is ready to be this team’s dangerman as the stakes are raised going forward.

Lautaro Martinez leading Golden Boot race

Lautaro Martinez has scored in all three of Argentina’s matches at Copa America, totalling four goals.

No other player at the tournament has scored more than two goals so far.

The four players with two goals are Vinicius Junior, Maxi Araujo, Darwin Nunez and Folarin Balogun.

Ignominious exit for Peru

This is the first time that Peru have missed the knockout stage at Copa America since 1995, which is also the last time they failed to win a single game at the tournament.

Even worse, this is the first time ever that they have failed to score a single goal at the tournament.

Fossati on refereeing: ‘It was always against us’

After blaming the heat during Peru’s last match for hurting his players’ performance tonight, Peru’s manager Jorge Fossati went on to also blame tonight’s referee for his team’s loss.

“I believe the referee was biased at some points, at some points he was giving against us fouls where we hadn’t even touched opponents,” Fossati said. “The referee and VAR missed the foul on the second goal. It was revealed on the big screen. It was a clear foul by Lautaro (Martinez) that threw our player off balance. I believe it was crystal clear. In many disputed moments, it was always against us.”

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