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Copa America: Alvarez and Messi score as Argentina enters final

Messi's Argentina will look to win its record third straight title on Sunday

Copa America: Alvarez and Messi score as Argentina enters final

Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi

EAST RUTHERFORD: Lionel Messi scored his 109th international goal and first of the tournament, leading defending champion Argentina over Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night and into the Copa America final.

Julian Alvarez put the Albiceleste ahead in the 22nd minute and Messi redirected Enzo Fernandez's shot in off the face of goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau in the 51st. Messi has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America, three shy of the record.

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.

“It's insane what this team has done, what the Argentina national team is doing," Messi said. “For those who remain from the old guard, it's beyond impressive that the national team is in another final."

Argentina fans gathered in Times Square on the eve of the match and filled the streets of Manhattan before heading to MetLife Stadium, site of the 2026 World Cup final. The crowd of 80,102 on a night with an 82-degree temperature and 82% humidity was overwhelmingly pro-Argentina, with only a few sections dominated by red-clad Canadian supporters.

It was among the biggest games for Canadian soccer, which went 0-6 in its only World Cup appearances in 1986 and 2022 and won its only major title at the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Argentina had beaten Canada 2-0 in the tournament opener on June 20.

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

"It's been a very difficult Copa America, very competitive, bad surfaces, excessive heat,” Messi said.

Argentina went ahead after Rodrigo De Paul from the centre 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 channelled the ball to De Paul, who ran to the end line and cut the ball back. Kone's attempted clearance went to Fernandez, who teed up a shot that Messi redirected from just inside the 6-yard box.

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