Messi scored his 109th goal, guiding defending champion Argentina to a 2-0 victory over Canada and securing a spot in the Copa America final

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Leo Messi gestures in the game

Lionel Messi and Argentina are close to matching Spain as the only nations to win three consecutive major titles.

“It’s incredible what this team has achieved, what the Argentina national team is doing,” Messi said Tuesday night after scoring his 109th international goal to secure a 2-0 victory over Canada and a place in this weekend’s Copa America final.

“For those of us who have been here for a while, it’s truly impressive that we’re in another final.”

Julián Álvarez opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, controlling a long pass from Rodrigo De Paul, evading Moïse Bombito, and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau for his ninth international goal.

Messi then deflected Enzo Fernández’s shot into the net off Crépeau’s face from close range in the 51st minute, marking his first goal of the tournament.

Messi has scored 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and has netted 14 times in Copa America games, just three goals short of the record. He has scored against 38 different countries.

“I wasn’t sure if Enzo’s shot was going in,” Messi said. “It was a quick reaction.”

Argentina players celebrate after scoring a goal

Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with 130 goals, has more international goals than Messi, who celebrated his 37th birthday on June 24. Iran’s Ali Daei scored 108 or 109 goals from 1993 to 2006, with some debate over whether one goal against Ecuador in 2000 counted as a full international match.

With their win on Argentina’s Independence Day, the team extended its unbeaten run to 10 games. The Albiceleste are aiming for a record 16th Copa America title when they face Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday in Miami Gardens, Florida.

“We need to enjoy every moment of this journey,” Messi said. “I know these are the final battles.”

Argentina is aiming to win Copa America titles before and after the 2022 World Cup, trying to match Spain’s achievement of winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.

“These are just numbers. I’m not focused on that,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni through a translator. “What matters most is winning.”

Messi, playing his 38th Copa America game, sat out Argentina’s last group match due to a leg injury. He played the full 90 minutes in the quarterfinal win against Ecuador but was more active in the semifinal, narrowly missing shots in the 12th and 44th minutes.

Messi had 45 touches and completed 79% of his passes. “They punished us for small mistakes,” Crépeau commented. The temporary grass at MetLife Stadium seemed heavy, causing splashes of water and kicking up sand during dribbles.

Argentina players celebrate after scoring a second goal

“This Copa America has been very challenging,” Messi noted, “with tough competition, poor pitches, and extreme heat.”

Ahead of the match, Argentina fans gathered in Times Square and filled Manhattan’s streets before heading to MetLife Stadium. The crowd of 80,102, on a night with 82-degree temperatures and 82% humidity, heavily favored Argentina, with only a few sections occupied by Canadian supporters in red.

For Canadian soccer, this match was significant, considering their history: winless in their two World Cup appearances (1986 and 2022) and winning the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Argentina had defeated Canada 2-0 in the tournament opener on June 20.

“The tournament caught up with us a bit,” said Canada coach Jesse Marsch. “There’s been heat, travel, and numerous challenges… We’re still early in our journey.”

Canada’s star player Alphonso Davies left the game in the 71st minute after a clean challenge with Gonzalo Montiel injured his right leg.

Argentina players group up scoring a goal

“He’s undergoing an X-ray, and we hope he’s okay, but it’s uncertain,” Marsch said.

Canada managed two shots on target: Jonathan David was denied by Emiliano Martínez just before halftime, and Martínez made a crucial save from Tani Oluwaseyi in the 89th minute.

“We started to lose focus. We started to move away from our strategy,” said defender Derek Cornelius, who swapped jerseys with Messi.

While Messi talked about “final challenges,” Scaloni and supporters are optimistic that Argentina and Messi might come back to MetLife Stadium for the 2026 World Cup final.

“We will never be the ones to say it’s over,” Scaloni said. “He can stay with our team as long as he wants to.”


By James Brown

A passionate and driven individual currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Born on 06 February, hails from Raipur, where their journey into the world of technology and creativity began.

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