Lionel Messi scores as Argentina chases down Canada, waltzes into Copa America final

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The decisive moment in Argentina’s final step back toward the Copa America was like any other climb: simple.

not that Easy. Argentina had to work, think and sweat at MetLife Stadium on Tuesday night in the first leg of two Copa semi-finals. They sometimes had to stomach their initial fear.

But they beat Canada 2-0 in Sunday’s final. Their clincher was perhaps Lionel Messi’s most subtle, simple goal, his debut. And their breakthrough, midway through the first half, was straightforward — literally.

It only required two passes, from the center back to the central midfielder, then the central midfielder to the center forward. The first, from Christian Romero to Rodrigo de Paul, was harmless. But the second Argentine found Canada’s killer, Julian Alvarez.

His first touch was excellent. His second left Canadian defender Moise Pompidou on the grass. His third beat goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau to give Argentina the lead.

It was Alvarez who broke the deadlock three weeks ago when these two teams met in the opening game of the 2024 Copa America. It lasted 48 minutes that night in Atlanta, Canada. Here, it lasted only 22.

During those 22 minutes, the Underdogs were lively. They found openings. They advanced on the counter. threatened

But they don’t have the quality to jump at opportunities. Once they agreed, they were toast.

Messi, with a classic feint and right-footed shot, buried the Reds before half-time.

Five minutes after the break, he buried them.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most goals in his illustrious career, setting the record straight in the 2024 Copa America. He slides a pass to De Paul. He continued his run. After some penalty-box pinball, he poked his leg at an Enzo Fernandez shot and half-punched, half-glared into the net.

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He looked at the assistant referee and didn’t know if he was in. But he was, so he slowly jumped into Enzo’s arms and felt a feeling he hadn’t felt since October in a competitive Argentina game.

He looked relatively pedestrian in the three Copa America games before 2024. Apparently, so was Argentina.

Albiceleste That opener against Canada was vulnerable. They needed a late and lucky Lautaro Martinez goal to beat Chile. They rested the starters in a meaningless group final against Peru. They needed a penalty shootout – and a heroic goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez – to keep Ecuador in the quarter-finals.

So they didn’t prove they could be world champions in this semi-final. At times, they seemed to run out of attacking ideas.

But they had enough to win back Canada; They are occasionally dull but adequate.

They are good enough to reach the final of their third major tournament in a row, where they will meet either Colombia or Uruguay, their first formidable opponent of the summer.

Whether they prove anything is not so relevant. They are 90 minutes away for another title.

Live coverage is over40 updates

  • FULL TIME: Argentina 2-0 Canada

    22′ Julian Alvarez scores after a sweet assist from Rodrigo de Paul.

    51′ Lionel Messi scores the first goal of the match assisted by Enzo Fernandez.

  • 88′ Nahuel Molina scores

    Molina receives a yellow card.

  • 71′ Jonathan Osorio replaces Alfonso Davies

  • Both these players scored goals today

    This photo taken in September 2007 shows a 20-year-old Lionel Messi, who began his illustrious Barcelona career four years earlier, helping Lamain Yamal take a shower during a photo shoot.  In the dressing room of the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain.  Lamine Yamal is now a soccer sensation for both Spain and Barcelona and he is still only 16 years old.  (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

    (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

  • 51′ Goal Argentina

    Messi flicked it onto Fernandez’s assist into the box.

  • The second half begins now

    Argentina are only 45 minutes away from another Copa America final

  • 44′ Messi’s shot goes wide

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