Argentina beat Canada and secured their place in the Copa America final

Argentina's Lionel Messi in action with Canada's Moise Bombito on July 9, 2024. — Reuters

NEW JERSEY: Defending champions Argentina booked their place in the Copa America final after goals from Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi gave them a 2-0 win over Canada in Tuesday's semi-final in New Jersey.

Argentina have won a record 15 Copa titles and reached the final six times in the last eight editions, but Canada caused them problems in the first 20 minutes: Jacob Shaffelburg twice shot wide from promising positions.

After absorbing the early pressure, Argentina took the lead when Rodrigo De Paul passed to Alvarez, who weaved between two defenders to score with a precise shot in the 22nd minute.

The 2022 World Cup champions Argentina gradually took control of the match and Messi had a chance to double their lead in the 44th minute when he created space in the box with some silky footwork before firing wide.

Canada nearly equalised against the run of play in first-half stoppage time when Jonathan David got in front of his marker to receive a long throw-in, but his close-range shot went straight at goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Messi then scored Argentina's second goal in the 51st minute when he stretched out his foot to deflect Enzo Fernandez's shot from the edge of the area past Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

The goal moved Messi into fifth place on the all-time Copa America scoring charts, alongside Peru's Paolo Guerrero and Chile's Eduardo Vargas on 14.

The 37-year-old's 109th goal for Argentina also allowed him to overtake Iran's Ali Daei in the all-time international scoring charts. Messi is second behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 130 goals for Portugal.

Despite their two-goal lead, Argentina endured a nervy end to the match when Canadian substitute Tani Oluwaseyi tested Martinez with a pinpoint shot in the 89th minute before heading wide a minute later.

Argentina will face either Uruguay or Colombia in the final in Florida on Sunday, on Wednesday.

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