Alvarez, Messi lead Argentina to Copa America final

New Jersey, July 10 (UNI) Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of halftime as defending champions Argentina advanced into the Copa America final with a 2-0 victory over Canada on Tuesday.

Alvarez put his side ahead in the semifinal at MetLife Stadium with a low finish after beating the offside trap, and Messi then capitalized on chaotic defending to score his first goal of the tournament.

Argentina will meet the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between Uruguay and Colombia in the final.

Canada, competing in the continental tournament for the first time, will contest the playoff for third place in Charlotte on Saturday.

Les Rouges began brightly against the South American side in stifling conditions, and Jacob Shaffelburg shot wide after finding time and space on the edge of the box.

Argentina went ahead in the 22nd minute when Rodrigo De Paul’s perfectly weighted through ball found Alvarez, who shrugged off his marker before shooting between the legs of goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

The reigning World Cup champions almost doubled the lead shortly after through Lisandro Martinez, who headed over the bar after Messi’s corner. The latter then shot wide after combining with Angel Di Maria as Argentina began to take charge.

Canada’s best chance of the first half came just before the interval when Jonathan David’s close-range effort forced a smart save from Emiliano Martinez.

Argentina finally extended the lead six minutes after the restart. Ismael Kone’s rushed clearance fell straight into the path of Enzo Fernandez, whose long-range effort in traffic flew toward Messi. The Argentina captain showed lightning reflexes to redirect the shot into the bottom right corner, leaving Crepeau with no chance.

The Albiceleste appeared to tire as the match progressed and Canada almost matched their opponents for possession in the second half.

Canada forward Tani Oluwaseyi had two chances to reduce the deficit in the closing minutes. He forced a tidy save from Martinez with his low effort from 15 yards first, and moments later, he headed just wide after Jonathan Osorio’s cross.

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