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Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez Score as Argentina Beat Canada 2-0 to Reach Copa America Final

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Copa America: Argentina's Lionel Messi against Canada (AP)

Copa America: Argentina’s Lionel Messi against Canada (AP)

Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez scored as Argentina defeated Canada 2-0 to reach the final of the Copa America.

Defending champions Argentina defeated Canada 2-0 on Tuesday to reach the final of the Copa America.

Argentina soaked up some early pressure before Alvarez ghosted in between two defenders to open the scoring with a tidy finish in the 22nd minute.

Messi had chances throughout the match and doubled the lead in the 51st minute when he stuck out a boot to divert Enzo Fernandez’s shot from the edge of the area past Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

Argentina will take on either Uruguay or Colombia, who meet on Wednesday, in the final in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday.

Messi scored his 109th international goal and in fact has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America play, three shy of the record.

Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 130 has more international goals than Messi, who turned 37 on June 24. Iran’s Al Daei had 108 or 109 from 1993 to 2006, with a lingering dispute over whether a goal against Ecuador in 2000 occurred in a full international match.

With a victory on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste seek a record 16th Copa title when they play Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

Trying to string together championships in consecutive Copa Americas around the 2022 World Cup championship, Argentina is trying to match the feat of Spain when La Roja won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.

Making his 38th Copa America appearance, Messi had missed Argentina’s group stage finale with a leg injury and was subdued while playing 90 minutes in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador.

He was just wide from the top of the penalty area in the 12th minute after exchanging passes with Angel Di Maria, then wide again in the 44th and put a chip over the crossbar in first-half injury time.

MetLife’s temporary grass surface appeared heavy, with water splashing and sand popping up during dribbles.

Argentina went ahead after Rodrigo De Paul from the center circle played a long pass to Alvarez, who took a touch at the top of the arc to control the ball from Moise Bombito. Alvarez took another touch to create space from Bombito and from near the penalty spot slipped the ball between the legs of Crepeau for his ninth goal in 35 international appearances.

Messi scored following a throw-in. He centered the ball to De Paul, who ran to the end line and cut the ball back. Kone’s attempted clearance went to Fernández, who teed up a shot that Messi redirected from just inside the 6-yard box.

Canada star Alphonso Davies limped off after his right leg was caught in a clean challenge with Gonzalo Montiel and he was replaced in the 71st minute.

Jonathan David was thwarted by Emiliano Martinez from close range in first-half stoppage time, and Martinez made a kick save on Tani Oluwaseyi in the 80th.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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