The Albiceleste made it to three major tournament finals in three years as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi inspired a star-studded team to a 4-0 thrashing of hosts USA. The four-time Ballon D’Or winner scored a 32nd minute free-kick to break Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time goal scoring record for Argentina.

Fired up by the desire to end a 23-year drought of major trophies, Argentina have been relentless, coming into this year’s Copa America. They have brushed aside every team that has stood in the way of a potential 15th continental honour and USA weren’t treated any differently.

The hosts were pummeled 4-0 in front of their own crowd in Houston as Argentina went through to their second consecutive Copa America final. They’ll look to go all the way this time around having tragically lost out to Chile on penalties in 2015.

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on a free kick in the first half against the United States during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – JUNE 21: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on a free kick in the first half against the United States during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Albiceleste took the lead in just the 3rd minute when Lionel Messi chipped the ball into space for Ezekiel Lavezzi, who headed the ball past Brad Guzan. Then, just past the half-hour mark Messi struck a majestic free-kick into the far corner to double the advantage for his side on the night.

This goal helped the Barcelona forward to break Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time goal tally of 54 for Argentina.

Higuain got into the act after half time when Messi set him up beautifully in the 50th minute only for the Napoli hit-man to strike the ball straight into the goalkeeper. However, a fortunate rebound gave him a second chance, which he gratefully accepted. He netted his second, when in the 85th minute,Messi set him up to shoot into an empty goal, to complete a comprehensive victory for the Argentines.

Lionel Messi’s performance on the night left world bowing before him out of respect as folks took to Twitter to voice their respect and appreciation for the 29-year-old.

Messi breaks Gabriel Batistuta’s record

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina interacts with a fan who ran onto the field prior to the start of the second half during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match between Argentina and the United States at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – JUNE 21: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina interacts with a fan who ran onto the field prior to the start of the second half during a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match between Argentina and the United States at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Messi broke Fiorentina and Argentine legend Gabriel Batistuta’s 14-year old national goal-scoring record at Houston, where the Barcelona forward eclipsed the tally of 54 with a majestic free-kick to net his 55th for the national side. A superlative performance from the Argentine even forced a supporter at full-time to invade the pitch just so he could bow down to the master.

Can Argentina go on and win the competition?

Argentina's coach Gerardo Martino is pictured during the Copa America Centenario semifinal football match against USA in Houston, Texas, United States, on June 21, 2016. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina’s coach Gerardo Martino is pictured during the Copa America Centenario semifinal football match against USA in Houston, Texas, United States, on June 21, 2016. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Surely the Albiceleste must be third time lucky shouldn’t they? It’s been a heart-breaking run in major tournaments for Argentina who lost both a World Cup final and a Copa America final in the last two years. With such a dominant show this time, they are once again fancied to lift the title.

But Argentina will know all too well that a cup final is a completely different ball-game and their run-up to that stage has no bearing on the actual result on the big night. Therefore, Tata Martino will hope that his side can keep the same level of intensity going into the final, where they could face either Colombia or defending champions Chile depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s second semi-final at Chicago.

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