Messi leads Argentina into Copa America final



Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to the Copa America final with a 2-0 win over Canada.

The 37-year-old scored six minutes into the second half to double Argentina's lead when he deflected an effort from Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez past Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez had given the World Cup holders the lead when he latched on to a pass from Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo de Paul and converted from close range.

It's the sixth time in the last eight editions that Argentina, the 15-time Copa America winners, have reached the final.

The final, against either Uruguay or Colombia, will be Angel di Maria's final appearance for Argentina before his international retirement and there are also doubts over Messi's long-term future.

"Let's enjoy what we are experiencing as a national team, as a group. It is not easy to be in a final again, to compete again to be champions," Messi told TyC Sports.

"I'm living it as I have been living everything lately - enjoying it very much and being aware, as it happens to Fideo (Di Maria) and Ota (Nicolas Otamendi), that these are the last battles."

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni says he will work to "convince" Di Maria and Messi to continue with international duty.

"For Leo (Messi), it's similar to Angel," said Scaloni.

"We have to let him be and we will never be the ones to close the door. He can be with our team for as long as he wants to be. And if he wants to retire but still come and hang around, it would be great."

Jacob Shaffelburg, a winger for MLS club Nashville, squandered Canada's best chances in the early stages against Argentina.

Canada, ranked 48th in the world, were knocked off their stride by Alvarez's goal and Argentina took a firmer grip on the game.

Lille striker Jonathan David had Canada's best chance in first-half stoppage time when he latched on to a long throw but his effort was fired straight at Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Despite the defeat, Canada surpassed expectations in their inaugural appearance at the Copa America.

Jesse Marsch's side, the co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup alongside Mexico and the USA, will face the losers from the other semi-final in a third-place play-off on Sunday.

"What I said to the team afterwards is I know that they're very disappointed, but I'm very proud of them," said Marsch.

"We've put together some incredible performances, just starting our process."

Marsch added it was important that Canada found a way to "expand" their "player pool" in the coming years.

The semi-final between Uruguay and Colombia and takes place on Thursday, 11 July at 01:00 BST and Copa America final is on Monday, 15 July (01:00)

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