Messi leads Argentina into Copa America final

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

The 37-year-old scored six minutes into the second half, doubling Argentina’s lead by deflecting a shot from Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez past Canada’s goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez opened the scoring by converting a pass from Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo de Paul from close range.

This marks the sixth time in the last eight editions that Argentina, 15-time Copa America winners, have reached the final.

The upcoming final, against either Uruguay or Colombia, will be Angel di Maria’s last appearance for Argentina before his international retirement, and there are uncertainties about 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, missed Canada’s best early opportunities against Argentina.

Ranked 48th in the world, Canada was unsettled by Julian Alvarez’s goal, allowing Argentina to take control of the game.

Lille striker Jonathan David had Canada’s best chance during first-half stoppage time when he received a long throw, but his shot was directly at Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Despite the loss, Canada exceeded expectations in their first Copa America appearance.

Jesse Marsch’s team, co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the USA, will play in the third-place match on Sunday against the loser of the other semi-final.

“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).