Copa América
Argentina tops Canada 2-0 to advance to Copa América final
Copa América

Argentina tops Canada 2-0 to advance to Copa América final

Published Jul. 9, 2024 10:02 p.m. ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Lionel Messi and Argentina are heading back to the Copa América final.

The defending Copa champions beat North American upstart Canada 1-0 on Tuesday in front of a sold-out crowd of 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium to advance to Sunday’s finale in Miami.

The Albiceleste will play for a record 16th title against either Colombia or Uruguay. Julián Álvarez scored the goal that put Argentina in front in the 22nd minute, and Messi doubled Argentina's advantage when he scored his first goal of the tournament early in the second half.


Here are a few thoughts on Tuesday’s match.

Play of the game

Messi’s somewhat fluky goal — the GOAT deflected a driven shot by Enzo Fernández past Reds' keeper Maxime Crépeau — effectively sealed the win for Lionel Scaloni’s side, but it was Álvarez’s beautiful strike that sent Argentina on its way.

Midfielder Rodrigo De Paul started the play with a defense-splitting long pass to Álvarez that was even prettier than the finish, but the Manchester City man still had work to do.  Álvarez settled De Paul’s feed expertly and, with Canadian center back Moïse Bombito draped all over him, shrugged off the challenge and slotted the ball past Crépeau:

Turning point

It’s not accurate to say that Canada was the better team over the first 20 minutes of the match. But they did have the better of the chances before the opening goal.

Content to sit in a compact defensive shell and attack on the counter, Jesse March’s team got into dangerous positions on multiple occasions despite having just 35-percent of the possession. Speedy winger Jacob Shaffelburg continued to impress by producing a pair of early opportunities, and forward Jonathan David squandered the Canadians’ best look just five minutes before they fell behind. The underdogs held a 3-2  shot advantage before Álvarez broke the deadlock.

Key stat

The Canadians may have had more shots early on, but the final tally tells the story: Argentina had 11 attempts at goal to eight after the 90 minutes were up, scoring on two of their three on-target efforts. Meantime, Canada only forced Albiceleste goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez – who Marsch called the "best keeper in the world" on Monday – into a single save at the end of each half. 

What’s next for Canada?

The Reds and their fans can spend the next two months riding the high of this unprecedented, unexpected Copa América run. Canada may have lost this game to the favorites and FIFA’s top ranked team, but they won the hearts and minds of their fans back home and surely created a few more in the process. 

More than 11-percent of Canada’s population of around 39 million people tuned into all or part of last week’s quarterfinal triumph over Venezuela. When the numbers for Tuesday’s contest are released, it should top that figure. There’s real momentum for the 2026 World Cup co-hosts now with soccer’s next showpiece event less than two years away. The Reds next match even has a built-in story line: It’s on Sept. 7 against the United States, which a year ago passed on the opportunity to hire Canada’s American boss Marsch.

What’s next for Argentina?

A third consecutive major tournament final. The last two ended with the Albiceleste on the podium holding a trophy as confetti rained down upon them. Whichever opponent  they end up facing on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami — Colombia or Uruguay, which meet each other Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina in the other semi — will pose a difficult test. 

There’s a reason Spain is the only team in soccer history to win two continental crowns with a World Cup sandwiched in-between. But if any team can do it, it’s one led by Messi. Argentina will have other motivation, too: The country is currently tied with Uruguay with 15 Copa titles, tied for the most all-time. Should they win on Sunday, Argentina will stand alone.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports who has covered the United States men's and women's national teams at FIFA World Cups on five continents. Follow him at @ByDougMcIntyre.


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