Soccer

Messi scores as Argentina beats Canada to reach Copa America final

Messi recorded his first goal of the 2024 tournament in the win.

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Argentina is one win away from its third straight major international title.

Lionel Messi scored as La Albiceleste relatively cruised to a 2-0 win over Canada in their Copa America semifinal matchup Tuesday.

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Canada, under American manager Jesse Marsch, started the first 20 minutes as the better and more energetic team. Jonathan David and Jacob Shaffelburg got into promising areas inside Argentina's defensive box, but they couldn't find the vital opening goal to increase the pressure.

That quickly came back to bite Canada, as a defensive lapse led to Argentina's opener.

Julian Alvarez found a gap between Canada's two right-sided defenders, and Rodrigo De Paul found him with a slicing pass that the 24-year-old striker slotted away.

Argentina from there went on to dominate the game. It created the better chances while also hampering Canada as both teams deployed 4-4-2 formations.

But Messi and Alvarez got on the ball in better positions than Canada's forwards could, and the Argentine duo also made things happen in the half spaces thanks to their respective qualities.

Messi and Angel Di Maria each came close to adding a second goal for Argentina in the first half, but both efforts went wide of the post.

David also came painfully close to equalizing for Canada right at the halftime mark, but Emi Martinez made himself big on the near post to keep it out.

The second goal of the game came via Messi in the 51st minute.

After a spell of creating danger, the ball came out to Enzo Fernandez, who was just inside the box. His shot attempt was poked home by Messi, right in front of Canadian keeper Maxime Crepeau.

After an initial offside check, Messi was cleared due to one Canadian player playing him way onside.

Argentina saw out the game from there, generating 2.21 expected goals, via FotMob, on 11 total shots and two big chances.

Canada, for comparison's sake, had 0.8 expected goals on nine total shots and two big chances, but couldn't convert past Martinez.

The result will see Argentina compete in the Copa America final on Sunday, July 14. La Albiceleste will play either red-hot Colombia or a sneaky-good Uruguay team that eliminated Brazil in the quarterfinal.

Kickoff time for the final is slated for 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT.

Having won the 2021 Copa America and 2022 World Cup, Argentina could make it a third straight major international trophy with a win Sunday.

Despite the loss, Canada's tournament isn't over yet. Les Rouges will play the loser of Colombia vs. Uruguay in the third-place game on Saturday.

No matter the result of that game, it will mark Canada's best ever performance in the tournament, which saw the U.S. men's national team and Mexico both get grouped.

The USMNT's hopes to advance were spoiled as they were knocked out of the Copa America tournament following a 1-0 defeat against Uruguay.
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