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Argentina see off Canada to reach final

Argentina see off Canada to reach final

Lionel Messi scored his 109th international goal and first of the tournament, leading defending champion Argentina over Canada 2-0 on Tuesday (Jul 9) and into the Copa America final. Julian Alvarez put the Albiceleste ahead in the 22nd minute and Messi redirected Enzo Fernandez’s shot in off the face of goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau in the 51st. Messi has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America play, three shy of the record. Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 130 has more international goals than Messi, who turned 37 on Jun 24. Iran’s Al Daei had 108 or 109 from 1993 to 2006, with a lingering dispute over whether a goal against Ecuador in 2000 occurred in a full international match. With a victory on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste seek a record 16th Copa title when they play Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

Defending champions Argentina booked their place in the Copa America final after goals from Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi gave them a 2-0 win over Canada in Tuesday's (Jul 9) semi-final in New Jersey. Argentina will face either Uruguay or Colombia in Sunday's final in Florida, a match that could represent the last shot at silverware for several senior squad members including Messi, Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi.

Argentina have won a joint-record 15 Copa titles and reached the final six times in the past eight editions but Canada caused them real problems in the opening 20 minutes, Jacob Shaffelburg twice shooting wide from promising positions.

After soaking up the early pressure, though, Argentina went ahead when Rodrigo De Paul played through Alvarez, who ghosted in between two defenders to score with a tidy finish in the 22nd minute.

Argentina, 2022 World Cup winners and number one in FIFA's rankings, gradually took control and Messi had a chance to double their lead in the 44th minute when he created space in the box with some silky footwork before lashing his effort wide.

Canada nearly snatched an equaliser against the run of play in first-half stoppage time as Jonathan David sneaked in ahead of his marker to get on the end of a long throw, but his close-range shot was hit straight at goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Messi had struggled with a muscle injury earlier in the tournament but appeared revitalised on a hot and humid evening at the MetLife Stadium. He scored Argentina's second in the 51st minute, sticking out a boot to divert Enzo Fernandez's shot from the edge of the area past Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

The goal moved Messi to joint fifth in the all-time Copa America scoring charts, level with Peru's Paolo Guerrero and Chile's Eduardo Vargas, on 14. His 109th goal for Argentina also saw him surpass Iran's Ali Daei to take sole possession of second place on the all-time international scoring charts. Messi trails only Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 130 goals for Portugal.

Despite their two-goal cushion, Argentina had a nervy finish to the match as Canada substitute Tani Oluwaseyi tested Martinez with a crisp shot in the 89th minute before directing a glancing header wide a minute later.

For Canada, the defeat ends a remarkable run in which they defied expectations and performed better than their higher-ranked CONCACAF rivals Mexico and the United States, their fellow co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

Trying to string together championships in consecutive Copa Americas around the 2022 World Cup championship, Argentina is trying to match the feat of Spain when La Roja won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.