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Argentina ends Canada's run to reach Copa America final again


Argentina ended Canada's impressive Copa America run with a 2-0 win in Tuesday's semifinal to book its place in the showpiece match once again.

Just as he did in the tournament-opening meeting between these two teams last month - another Argentina victory by the same scoreline - Julian Alvarez broke the deadlock, getting clean through on goal and capitalizing in the 22nd minute. Lionel Messi finally notched his first goal of the tournament, and the 109th in his storied international career, to seal the result in the 51st minute.

Argentina, looking to defend its title and claim the Copa America crown for a record 16th time, will play either Colombia or Uruguay in Sunday's final. Canada, meanwhile, will have to regroup and look to finish its Copa debut on a high in Saturday's third-place game.

Compared to some of the other matches in the competition thus far - particularly Canada's frenetic quarterfinal win over Venezuela - Tuesday's fixture was played, for the most part, at a much more methodical pace on the slow, heavy pitch at MetLife Stadium that seemed to have been watered too much and looked uneven in various places.

Canada head coach Jesse Marsch said his team needed an almost perfect match to beat the defending world and South American champion. Through the early exchanges in front of the capacity crowd of over 80,000 people, the Canadians more than held their own, looking compact defensively and threatening on the counterattack.

And then Argentina struck.

A brief defensive lapse left Alvarez in too much space just outside the penalty area, and Rodrigo De Paul, under no pressure, picked him out perfectly before the Manchester City forward evaded a last-ditch tackle from Moise Bombito and slid the ball under an onrushing Maxime Crepeau.


Marsch was incensed as the halftime whistle sounded, seemingly upset both that a foul wasn't called prior to Argentina's goal and with his team's lack of concentration at the decisive moment.

Any hope of a comeback, and stunning upset, was all but extinguished just six minutes into the second stanza. Messi, who's battled a lingering leg injury, got the slightest touch on a weak shot from Enzo Fernandez, redirecting it just enough to beat Crepeau from close range.

Messi has now scored in six different editions of the tournament and has 14 Copa America goals in his career. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (130) has more men's international goals than the 37-year-old Inter Miami star, who is looking to lead the Albiceleste to a third consecutive major tournament triumph.

"It's insane what this team has done, what the Argentina national team is doing," Messi said, according to Ronald Blum of The Associated Press. "For those who remain from the old guard, it's beyond impressive that the national team is in another final."

Argentina largely sat deep after doubling its lead, allowing Canada to have possession in search of a goal that could incite some doubt in Lionel Scaloni's side. Substitute Tani Oluwaseyi came closest to getting Canada on the board, getting two excellent chances in the final minutes. His first effort was saved by Emiliano Martinez, and his second, a point-blank header, went just wide.

"The tournament caught up with us a little bit," Marsch told reporters during his post-match press conference, citing Argentina's ability to rotate its squad throughout the competition and admitting that Canada must expand its player pool to compete with the top national teams.

Marsch, who said he was "very proud" of his side for exceeding all expectations this summer, added: "We've put together some incredible performances. We're just starting our process."

Canada, looking ahead to Saturday's match, will await an update on the status of captain Alphonso Davies, who left the contest in the 71st minute with an apparent ankle injury after a forceful tackle from Gonzalo Montiel that saw Davies' leg get trapped underneath the sliding Argentine right-back.

Davies went for X-rays after the game, with Canada Soccer saying those initial scans came back "all good," according to Matthew Scianitti of TSN.

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