Argentina defeats Canada to secure spot in Copa America final

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi shone as world champions Argentina delivered an impressive 2-0 victory over Canada on Tuesday, securing their place in the Copa America final and keeping their quest for a third consecutive major title alive.

The defending champions will face either Uruguay or Colombia in Sunday’s highly anticipated final in Miami.

The 15-time Copa champions showcased their best performance of the tournament at the 82,500-capacity MetLife Stadium, reminiscent of their peak form during their 2022 World Cup triumph.

“The truth is that it’s crazy what this group has done, what the Argentina national team has been doing,” Messi told TyC Sports after scoring his first goal of the tournament. “It’s not easy for us to be in a final again, for us to compete again to be champions. I’m living it like I lived it in the last Copa America, in the last World Cup…These are the last battles, and I’m enjoying them to the maximum,” said the 37-year-old.

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Canada, making their first Copa America appearance and surprising many by reaching the semi-finals, found Messi and his teammates to be a step too far.

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“I think the tournament caught up with us a little bit,” said Canada’s American coach, Jesse Marsch, noting that his players looked fatigued midway through the first half. “Eventually the physicality and fatigue can catch up with you, and that was a big part of what happened with us tonight,” he added.

Canada had relied on high-energy football to progress, but after an early chance for Jacob Shaffelburg, who fired wide, Argentina took control and never relinquished it.

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Veteran wide-man Angel Di Maria, playing in his final tournament for Argentina, was a constant threat down the right. He provided an early warning when he picked out Messi with a cross, but the forward’s shot flashed just wide.

Rodrigo De Paul created the breakthrough in the 22nd minute, lofting a ball over the top to Julian Alvarez, who deftly controlled it and drove the ball home.

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The trio of Di Maria, Messi, and De Paul was a constant source of danger for Canada’s defense. Di Maria almost added a second with a chip that floated over the bar. Argentina’s confident build-up play reflected coach Lionel Scaloni’s well-drilled, creative team.

Just before halftime, Di Maria provided a slide-rule pass to Messi, who narrowly missed the target with a shot from his right foot.

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Canada’s coach Marsch faced a tough task at halftime, and any strategy to get his team back on level terms was dashed when Argentina doubled their lead six minutes after the restart. De Paul pulled the ball back to Enzo Fernandez, whose side-foot shot was directed home by Messi. A VAR review confirmed Messi was onside.

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With a two-goal cushion, Argentina sat back, conserving energy and inviting Canada to attack. Canada managed to trouble goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez only in the final minutes, with substitute Tani Oluwaseyi forcing a save.

Argentina’s comfortable victory leaves them one win away from a record 16th Copa America triumph, further cementing their legacy as one of football’s greatest teams.

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