Chicago, June 11 (IANS) Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez called Argentina forward Lionel Messi a “monster” after the latter came on as a substitute and netted a hat-trick in a 5-0 rout at the Copa America Centenario.
Messi came on with just 30 minutes left on the clock with his side leading 1-0. But then the Barcelona star scored three back to back goals in quick time.
Panama were also reduced to 10 men at the hour mark as Anibal Godoy was sent off.
“Before Messi came on, there was no difference in the game,” Gomez was quoted as saying by goal.com.
“Messi is a monster. If you make a mistake and Messi is nearby, you pay for it.
“To play with 10 men, and then later on they put him on, it’s daunting.”
The coach also said Argentina are quite capable of beating Panama anywhere around the world.
“Argentina will beat Panama anywhere. They have more of a squad, with great players and more history,” he said.
“I saw important things from Panama in the first half, but after the third goal we collapsed. It was a game that we started losing because of doubts in defence.
“But also, I think the margin is a bit bigger than it should have been.”
The loss leaves Panama needing a win over defending champions Chile in their final Group D fixture to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament.