Messi Leads Argentina to Victory Over Canada, Secures Final Berth

Messi Leads Argentina to Victory Over Canada, Secures Final Berth

by Joseph Anthony
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Defending champions Argentina secured their spot in the Copa America final with a 2-0 victory over Canada in Tuesday’s semi-final in New Jersey, thanks to goals from Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi.

Argentina will face either Uruguay or Colombia in Sunday’s final in Florida, potentially the last opportunity for senior squad members Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Nicolas Otamendi to win silverware.

Messi expressed his enthusiasm and awareness of the significance of this final, saying, “Let’s enjoy what we are experiencing as a national team, as a group. It is not easy to be in a final again, to compete again to be champions.” He highlighted that for veterans like Di Maria and Otamendi, these are the final opportunities to achieve glory.

Argentina, co-holders of a record 15 Copa America titles, faced a challenging start as Canada created early chances, with Jacob Shaffelburg narrowly missing twice. However, Argentina responded in the 22nd minute when Rodrigo De Paul set up Julian Alvarez, who finished calmly to put them ahead.

As the game progressed, Argentina, the 2022 World Cup winners and top-ranked team by FIFA, gained control. Messi almost doubled their lead before halftime but shot wide after creating space with skillful dribbling. Canada came close to equalizing just before the break, but Jonathan David’s close-range effort was saved by goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Messi, who had struggled with a muscle injury earlier in the tournament, seemed rejuvenated and scored Argentina’s second goal in the 51st minute. He deflected Enzo Fernandez’s shot past Canada’s goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, moving him to joint fifth in the all-time Copa America scoring charts and surpassing Iran’s Ali Daei to become the second highest scorer in international football, trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo.

Despite Argentina’s two-goal lead, Canada pushed for a comeback in the closing stages. Substitute Tani Oluwaseyi forced Martinez into a save and later missed with a header. Canada’s performance in the tournament exceeded expectations, outperforming higher-ranked CONCACAF rivals Mexico and the United States.

Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustaquio reflected on their performance, saying, “They’re the best team in the world, but at the same time we had our chances in the beginning of the game. If we scored one of our chances, the story of the game would probably have been different. To get here, the last four of the Copa America, it’s a big achievement.”

Argentina now looks forward to the final, where they aim to secure another Copa America title and provide a fitting farewell for their veteran stars.

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