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Messi's 109th Goal Leads Argentina to 2-0 Win Over Canada, Securing Copa America Final Spot

Messi's 109th Goal Leads Argentina to 2-0 Win Over Canada, Securing Copa America Final Spotillustration

Lionel Messi scored his 109th international goal, guiding defending champion Argentina to a 2-0 victory over Canada on Tuesday night and into the Copa America final.

Julián Álvarez gave the Albiceleste the lead in the 22nd minute, and Messi redirected Enzo Fernández's shot in off goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau's face in the 51st. Messi now has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America play, just three short of the record.

Only Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, with 130 international goals, surpasses Messi, who turned 37 on June 24. Iran's Ali Daei had 108 or 109 goals from 1993 to 2006, with some debate over whether a goal against Ecuador in 2000 counts as a full international .

With this win on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste are aiming for a record 16th Copa America title when they play Uruguay or on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

Argentina is attempting to secure consecutive Copa America titles around their 2022 World Cup , aiming to replicate Spain's achievement of winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.

Argentina fans gathered in Times Square before the match and filled the streets of Manhattan before heading to MetLife Stadium, the site of the 2026 World Cup final. The crowd of 80,102, in 82-degree temperature and 82% humidity, was predominantly pro-Argentina, with a few sections of Canadian supporters.

This match was significant for Canadian soccer, which went 0-6 in its only World Cup appearances in 1986 and 2022 and won its only major title at the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Argentina had also defeated Canada 2-0 in the tournament opener on June 20.

Canada's star Alphonso Davies limped off after a challenge with Gonzalo Montiel, being replaced in the 71st minute.

Making his 38th Copa America appearance, Messi had missed Argentina's group stage finale due to a leg injury and was subdued during the 90 minutes in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador.

Messi narrowly missed from the top of the penalty area in the 12th minute after exchanging passes with Ángel Di María, then missed again in the 44th minute and chipped over the crossbar in first-half injury time.

MetLife's temporary grass surface appeared challenging, with water splashing and sand popping up during dribbles.

Argentina took the lead after Rodrigo De Paul, from the center circle, played a long pass to Álvarez. Álvarez controlled the ball from Moïse Bombito, created space, and from near the penalty spot, slipped the ball between Crépeau's legs for his ninth goal in 35 international appearances.

Messi scored following a throw-in. He centered the ball to De Paul, who ran to the end line and cut it back. Koné's attempted clearance went to Fernández, whose shot Messi redirected from just inside the 6-yard box.

Jonathan David was thwarted by Emiliano Martínez from close range in first-half stoppage time, and Martínez made a kick save on Tani Oluwaseyi in the 80th minute.

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