BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez both scored as Argentina defeated Albania 4-0 in a friendly on Monday in its last warm-up before the Copa America - the continental championship.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Sergio Aguero also added goals as Argentina played with most of its top stars, though coach Sergio Batista left three of his best forwards on the bench to start the match - Tevez (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) and Aguero (Atletico Madrid).
Batista said he had not settled on his starting 11 for the opening Copa match against Bolivia. Of course, there is no doubt about Messi.
''It makes me feel good the way (Messi) played,'' Batista said. ''I think he played a great game, controlling the ball like you would expect him to. He looked comfortable on the field. He had a great game, and I'm happy for him.''
The question seems to be if Tevez will start, or will it be Angel Di Maria, who started against Albania but came off after the first half.
''We still haven't decided,'' Batista said. ''We have not made a decision and everyone knows they have to work hard to show themselves.''
Albania, no match for Argentina at full strength, played with a weakened team that was missing several top players including Galatasaray midfielder Lorik Cana and forward Erjon Bogdani of Italy's Cesena.
Argentina and Brazil are the favorites in the Copa America, which starts July 1. Brazil has won four of the last five South American titles.
Lavezzi gave Argentina the lead in the 6th minute in an opportunity created by Messi. Messi drew several defenders to him and threaded a pass through to Lavezzi, who finished from close range.
Messi had three of Argentina's better chances in the first half but goalkeeper Arjan Beqaj stopped him from scoring with scrambling saves. The Barcelona star finally broke through in the 43rd, receiving a pass in the area and slotting in a left-foot shot from 12 yards.
He then set up goals for Aguero and Tevez.
Aguero, who entered early in the second half, chipped in from close range in the 75th after taking a 15-meter pass from Messi.
Tevez, who has not played for the national team since last year, scored in the 90th minute, with Messi again delivering the final pass.
Tevez was left off the national team following a friendly in November against Brazil in Doha, Qatar. He missed the match with a questionable injury, which angered Batista and his coaching staff.
Tevez was also a strong supporter of former coach Diego Maradona, who was replaced by Batista.