Saturday, July 13, 2024

Argentina 2-0 Canada: Alvarez and Messi send La Albiceleste to Copa final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Jul 2024


Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi secured Argentina’s passage to the Copa America final following a 2-0 victory over Canada at the MetLife Stadium.

The defending champions weathered an early storm and took the lead through Alvarez’s ninth international goal in the 22nd minute.

Messi put the game beyond Canada’s grasp early in the second half, turning home Enzo Fernandez’s goal-bound effort from close range.

Argentina will face the winner of tomorrow’s semi-final clash between Uruguay and Colombia in Miami this weekend.

Canada started immediately on the front foot, startling their opponents early on as Jacob Shaffelburg was presented with two opportunities, but unable to test Emiliano Martinez on both occasions.

Largely a passenger in the opening 10 minutes, Messi was given his first sight of goal but could not find the target with his effort from outside the area.

Despite La Albiceleste’s lacklustre opening, a moment of individual quality sparked the contest into life.

Rodrigo De Paul was allowed time deep in midfield, picking out the run of Alvarez before taking a touch and prodding the ball beyond Maxime Crepeau for his second goal of the tournament – his first also came against Canada in their opening group game.

Argentina’s grip tightened on the contest and they almost doubled their lead when an uncharacteristic mistake by Alphonso Davies was almost punished by Angel Di Maria, with Messi going close again before the interval.

Lionel Scaloni’s side would increase their lead six minutes into the second half, with Messi netting his 109th international goal after turning home inside the area, which was eventually given following a VAR review for offside.

Alvarez almost doubled his tally following an exquisite pass from Di Maria, only to see his effort repelled by Crepeau with the goal at his mercy.

Canada’s efforts in pulling a goal back were dented when captain Davies was forced off with an injury with 20 minutes remaining, but continued to push for a way back into the contest.

Tani Oluwaseyi came the closest for Jesse Marsch’s side, heading narrowly wide of Martinez’s goal as Argentina saw out the triumph as they edge close to a record-breaking 16th Copa America title.

Alvarez the man of the moment for Argentina

Alvarez has made a name for being a big game player for Manchester City, and that form has seemingly transpired to international level for Lionel Scaloni’s side.

His ninth international goal saw him become the fourth player to score in both the Copa America and World Cup semi-finals, alongside Messi, Romario and Diego Forlan.

Part of the success in this tournament, despite Scaloni going back and forth between Alvarez and Lautaro Martínez, has been getting Alvarez the ball in dangerous spots.

His 0.24 xG per shot ranks third among players with at least five shots attempted behind Martínez (0.29) and the United States’ Ricardo Pepi (0.32).

With Messi’s international future still up in the air beyond the end of the Copa America, Alvarez has shown he is more than capable of filling the gap that will be left by Argentina’s number 10.

However, the Argentina captain continued to showcase his class on the international stage, with Canada the 38th different opponent Messi has scored against while playing for La Albiceleste – his 21st different opposition in competitive outings.

Canada’s fairytale Copa run comes to an end

Having already faced Argentina in the group stages of the competition, Marsch was under no illusion about the size of the task in front of him and can be proud of his side’s efforts against the defending Copa America champions.

But again, their wastefulness in front of goal proved costly and, against the best teams, it is something you are unable to get away with.

Having managed nine shots during the game, Canada mustered just two on target. Five of those efforts also came from inside the area but failed to trouble Martinez.

In the end, they managed two goals at the tournament from 6.46 expected goals, marking the most drastic underperformance of all 16 sides.

While their tournament may be over, Marsch has solid foundations to build on for the future with the 2026 World Cup now the goal for Canada.


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