Copa America 2024: Argentina beat Canada 2-0 to reach final, Messi scores

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Lionel Messi and Argentina are on the verge of joining Spain as the only two nations to win three straight major tournaments.

“What this team has done is crazy, what the Argentine national team is doing is crazy,” Messi said Tuesday night after scoring his 109th international goal in a 2-0 win over Canada to secure a place in this week’s Copa America final. “For those of us who are still from the old guard, to have the national team reach another final is impressive.”

Julian Alvarez puts Argentina ahead In the 22nd minute, he controlled a long pass from Rodrigo De Paul, evaded Moise Pompetto twice and put the ball through goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau’s legs for his ninth international goal.

Messi converts Enzo Fernandez’s shot Messi scored his first goal of the tournament after Ismael Kone’s four-yard shot was blocked by Crepeau in the 51st minute. Messi has scored 28 goals in his last 25 appearances for Argentina and 14 at the Copa America, three short of the record. He has also scored against 38 different countries.

“I wasn’t sure Enzo’s ball would go in. It was just a reaction,” Messi said.

Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with 130 goals, has more international goals than Messi, who turned 37 on June 24. Iran’s Ali Daei scored 108 or 109 goals between 1993 and 2006, with an ongoing dispute over whether his goal against Ecuador in 2000 occurred in a full international.

With its Independence Day win, Argentina extended its unbeaten run to 10 matches. Argentina will be looking to win its 16th Copa America title when it faces either Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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“We have to enjoy every moment of our current life. I know that these are the last battles,” Messi said.

In their bid to combine the Copa America and 2022 World Cup titles, Argentina hopes to match Spain’s achievement of winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup.

“These are just statistics. I’m not really interested in them. The most important thing is to win,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said through a translator.

In his 38th Copa America appearance, Messi missed the group stage final with Argentina due to a leg injury and did not perform well during his 90 minutes in the match. Quarter-final win over EcuadorHe was more agile and fired two shots that went wide of the post in the 12th and 44th minutes.

Messi touched the ball 45 times and his pass success rate was 79%.

“They make us pay for small details,” Crepeau said.

The temporary turf surface at MetLife Stadium looked heavy, with water splashing and sand appearing during the dribble.

“The Copa America was very difficult, the competition was intense, the surfaces were bad and the temperature was high,” Messi said.

Argentina fans gathered in Times Square on the eve of the game and filled the streets of Manhattan before heading to MetLife Stadium. The crowd of 80,102 on a night of 82 degrees and 82 percent humidity was overwhelmingly pro-Argentina, with red-clad Canadian fans taking up only a few sections of the stands.

The match was among the biggest for Canadian soccer, which lost 6-0 in its only World Cup appearances in 1986 and 2022 and won its only major title at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000. Argentina had beaten Canada 2-0 in the final. Opening of the tournament On June 20.

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“The tournament has affected us a little bit,” Canada coach Jesse Marsch said. “There was heat, there was travel, there were a lot of challenges… We’re still early in our process, right? Argentina has probably been together for eight years, seven years with this team, so we need to develop more players who can contribute so we can also rotate in the tournament, because eventually the physicality and fatigue can catch up with you.”

Canadian star Alphonso Davies left the match in the 71st minute after suffering an injury to his right leg in a clean tackle with Gonzalo Montiel.

“He’ll have an X-ray, so hopefully he’ll be okay, but we’re not sure,” Marsh said.

Canada had two shots on target, with Emiliano Martinez saving Jonathan David’s close-range effort in first-half stoppage time and Martinez also stopping a shot from Tani Oluwasi in the 89th minute.

“We started making mistakes. We started getting away from the game plan,” said defender Derek Cornelius, who swapped shirts with Messi.

While Messi referred to the “last battles,” Scaloni and his fans hope Argentina and Messi return to MetLife for the 2026 World Cup final.

“We will never be the ones to close the door. He can stay with our team as long as he wants,” Scaloni said.

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AP’s Copa America coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/Cuba-America

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