Favorite Argentina beat Jamaica 1-0 to secure top spot in its group at soccer’s Copa America on Saturday.
Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal at Sausalito stadium in Vina del Mar, Chile, allowing Argentina to coast to victory against Caribbean opponents that leave the tournament without a point or a goal.
Argentina will be joined in the knockout phase of the 12-team competition by group Group B rivals Uruguay and Paraguay after those two teams played out a 1-1 tie earlier.
Four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi failed to mark his 100th game for the national team with a goal as Argentina couldn’t turn its dominance into a bigger margin of victory.
Higuain, added to the starting lineup in place of Sergio Aguero, found the net after turning in the area and rolling the ball past goalkeeper Dwayne Miller in the 11th minute. A short while later he hit the goal frame after chipping the ball over Miller.
Angel Di Maria came closest to padding the score for Argentina. The Manchester United forward had a shot cleared off the line before hitting the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area early in the second half.
The 99-year-old Copa America is soccer’s oldest regional tournament. Argentina’s opponent in the June 26 quarterfinal will be confirmed tomorrow when group play is completed. Host Chile and Bolivia qualified from Group A on Friday.