Sunday, July 21, 2024

Lionel Messi scores goal, Argentina tops Canada to reach Copa America final

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Lionel Messi was in the right place at the right time, needing a gentle touch of his legendary left boot to find the back of the net.

It was Messi’s first goal during this summer’s Copa America tournament.

Now, Messi and Argentina have a chance to win the whole thing again.

Messi scored a quirky goal early in the second half, Julián Álvarez scored in the first half and Argentina defeated Canada, 2-0, on Tuesday night during their Copa America semifinal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“It’s crazy what this group did, what the Argentine national team has been doing,” Messi said after the game. “After this, much more importance will be given to all the finals that I and all of the old group had to play in.”

Argentina will play in the Copa America final on Sunday in Miami – awaiting Colombia and Uruguay to play Wednesday’s semifinal – for a chance to further cement its soccer dynasty.

Argentina, the defending World Cup champion, will pursue its second straight Copa America title. It could be the fourth major international championship in a three-year span — including the 2022 Finalissima win over 2021 Euro champion Italy. 

Messi scores his first goal during this Copa America

Messi, Argentina’s star, orchestrated another score, finding his way in the goal area to slightly touch a shot from Enzo Fernández in the 51st minute to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. It was the cushion they needed to cruise in the second half against Canada.

Messi was scoreless through Argentina’s five Copa America matches, and missing one on June 29 to nurse a right groin/adductor injury he has since returned from in the last two matches.

Messi was persistent with three shots in the first half toward the net, growing more and more frustrated to break through and deliver a shining moment during the tournament.

Messi finally delivered, but his goal lacked the theatrics that leave lasting impressions like many others in his career have.

Messi didn’t unleash a wicked boot from distance. He was barely 3 feet in front of the net. And the referees needed to review the score before ruling in Argentina’s favor as he and his teammates celebrated.

However, it was an early attack in the second half to demoralize Canada, playing in its first Copa America tournament and reaching the semifinal – outlasting the likes of Brazil, Venezuela, United States and others.

Argentina, however, was a Copa America favorite from the start. It beat Canada in the opener, along with Chile and Peru in the group stage. Argentina also rebounded from Messi’s miss in a penalty shootout to beat Ecuador in the quarterfinal. And then defeated Canada again decisively.

“It is extremely tough to reach another final,” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said. “We are carrying a great level of praise with great success. We know how hard it is to get here.”

Messi scored his 109th goal in international play, taking second place from Iran’s Ali Daei (108), while rival Cristiano Ronaldo leads all players with 130 goals, despite going scoreless during his Euro 2024 run with Portugal.

Álvarez scored in the 23rd minute, taking a pass from Rodrigo De Paul to get behind a Canadian defender, and sending Argentina’s early 1-0 lead into the back of the net.

Veteran Ángel Di María, 36, came off in the 78th minute to a curtain call from fans. The Copa America final will be his final match in Argentina’s famous white and sky blue.

Messi took a hit from a Canada player in the 88th minute, falling to the pitch. But he was able to finish the match.

And Canada’s second shot on goal of the night came during the 89th minute where Argentine goalie Dibu Martinez tipped Tani Oluwaseyi’s shot off his foot and caught it while laying on his back.

Only one match remains for Argentina to ascend to another height as one of the greatest teams in the sport’s history with another Copa America title.

Messi celebrates Copa America win on Instagram 

Tani Oluwaseyi misses late shot for Canada: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Canada’s second shot on goal of the night came during the 89th minute where Argentine goalie Dibu Martinez tipped Tani Oluwaseyi’s shot off his foot and caught it while laying on his back.

Ángel Di María, 36, came off in the 78th minute to a curtain call from fans. The Copa America final will be his final match in Argentina’s famous white and sky blue.

Messi has finally broken through with his first goal during this Copa America, a swing of his left foot right inside the goal area on a crowded sequence in the 51st minute to start the second half.

Credit Enzo Fernández for the assist as Messi tapped it in past the Canadian goalie.

Messi, again, frustrated with his latest shot, a bit rushed and sailing over the net just before halftime.

Messi, scoreless during Copa America, appears restless unless he finds the back of the net. Messi squared up for a shot from his right boot on this sequence, but missed outside the net.

Messi foul or no foul? Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi was left on his backside, wondering why a referee did not make a foul call in his favor during this sequence. It could have led to a Messi free kick.

Messi delivered a pass to Nicolás Tagliafico, but his shot was blocked by a defender.

Argentina remembers Canada goalie Maxime Crépeau veering off his line in the last match, and have tried a second time to catch him off-guard. Angel Di Maria took this shot, but missed.

Argentina fans celebrate Julián Álvarez’s goal: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Julián Álvarez took a pass from Rodrigo De Paul, got behind a Canadian defender, and set himself again for a shot into the back of the net.

Argentina takes the early lead in the 23rd minute.

Lionel Messi takes his first shot of the game in the 12th minute, but is just right of the near post.

Messi remains scoreless during Copa America, but nice to see him with the proactive attempt.

Canada’s Jacob Shaffelburg took his chance with an early shot on goal, but he was wide right.

After the match begin in Argentina’s backfield, Messi’s first touch was a dribble up the right side and a pass to Angel Di Maria, who attempted a cross back to Messi. But the pass was intercepted by Canada defender Derek Cornelius in the second minute.

Yes, Messi will play in his second straight game after returning from a right groin/adductor injury. He’s in the starting lineup tonight.

Argentina and Canada will play at 8 p.m. ET (9 p.m. in Argentina) on Tuesday night.

The game will be broadcast by FS1 in English, and Univision/TUDN in Spanish.

HOW TO WATCH: Watch every Copa America game with a subscription to fuboTV

Argentina goalie Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez has a new hairstyle for tonight’s match. Considered the best goalkeeper in the world, Martinez is showy and has no problem psyching out his opponents, especially in penalty shootouts. 

Canadian rapper Drake made waves with his $300,000 bet for Canada to beat Argentina. The bet would win $2.88 million, according to the betting slip Drake posted on his Instagram story before the game.

It’s surreal to imagine how former Barcelona star Lionel Messi posed with 16-year-old Spain phenom Lamine Yamal for these photos when Yamal was just a baby. The photos continued to make the rounds on social media Tuesday as Yamal scored to help Spain beat France 2-1 to reach the Euro finals.

Argentina 2, Canada 0: Argentina’s ability to control possession will create chances for the world champions, and limit Canada’s opportunities at the net. Messi delivers with a goal and an assist, perhaps to Angel Di Maria in a victory. — Safid Deen, Lionel Messi reporter.

Argentina is a -300 favorite to win, while a draw as +400 odds, and Canada has +900 odds for the upset, according to BETMGM. Keep in mind, these odds are for the 90-minute match, and not any penalty shootout.

Messi, 37, has left the door open about playing in the 2026 World Cup. Here’s what he’s said earlier this year about when he could potentially retire.

“Leo is well. He finished the last game well, and he’ll be part of the game [Tuesday],” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said Monday during a press conference.

Messi has yet to score a goal during Copa América , and missed a match (June 29 in Miami) due to injury. He has played in two group matches, and in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador last Thursday.

Although Messi has been the catalyst to three of Argentina’s six goals, he has slightly underwhelmed during the tournament hosted in his new home country for the last year since joining Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

When was the last time Messi scored a goal?

Messi’s last goal came more than a month ago on June 1, during a 3-3 draw with Inter Miami against St. Louis City during the MLS season.

Messi was angered and disappointed after he missed a penalty shot during a game-deciding shootout in the Copa América quarterfinals, but Argentina prevailed 1-1 (4-2 in penalties).

“A lot of anger, a lot of anger,” Messi said of his penalty miss. “I just wanted to touch it and it went high.”

Colombia and Uruguay will play in the other Copa América semifinal Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The semifinal winners will play in the Copa América 2024 final Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, while the losers play in the Copa América third-place game on Saturday in Charlotte.

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