Argentina, inspired by Lionel Messi, beats Canada in the opening match of Copa América

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Messi took part in a record-breaking 35th Copa América match.



CNN

Argentina started its defense of the Copa América title with a 2-0 win against Canada at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday.

Lionel Messi broke an appearance record that had stood for more than 70 years by playing in his 35th Copa América match, and was at the heart of Argentina’s goals from Julián Álvarez and Lautaro Martínez.

Canada, participating for the first time in this expanded edition of the Copa América, was a heavy underdog against the fifteen-time champions, but missed a number of promising opportunities to get on the scoresheet.

“This team creates scoring opportunities and defends like lions,” Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said after the match. “Yesterday I said Canada would be a tough opponent and it was a good test for us. The most important thing is that the team always responds, no matter what the match is like.”

Both teams had chances in a lively first half, played in front of more than 70,000 fans. Ángel Di María was unable to finish a one-on-one as Argentina counter-attacked from a corner, while Alexis Mac Allister saw his header saved by Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.

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Canada’s best chance of the half fell to Stephen Eustáquio, but his headed attempt was saved by Emi Martínez before Alphonso Davies missed the follow-up.

However, it was Argentina that took the lead early in the second period.

Messi picked out Mac Allister with an excellent pass, and although the Liverpool midfielder couldn’t get a shot away as he was awkwardly tangled with Crépeau, he set up Álvarez for the opening goal.

Messi had two scoring opportunities when he got behind the Canadian defense, but on the first occasion he was denied by the backline of Crépeau and Derek Cornelius, and on the second occasion his shot crept past the left post.

Jonathan David missed an open header – perhaps Canada’s best chance of the match – between Messi’s two breakaways, before Argentina wrapped up the match with a fantastic team goal.

Through a brilliant build-up, Messi found Martínez, who fired a shot through Crépeau’s legs to make it 2-0.

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Argentina’s players celebrate their second goal against Canada.

Argentina is now on a nine-match unbeaten run in the Copa América, having won both the 2021 tournament and the third-place play-off against Chile in 2019. La Albiceleste have group stage matches against Chile and then Peru in the coming days.

A win in this year’s competition would be Argentina’s third straight trophy in major tournaments, after winning the World Cup in 2022.

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