Messi Guides Argentina To Another Copa Final (Photos)

Under a hot, sticky sky, Argentina and Lionel Messi sealed their second consecutive Copa América final — and fourth in past five tournaments — with a 2-0 win over Canada on Tuesday.

Thanks to goals from Manchester City's Julián Àlvarez and Messi, Argentina secured a strong and somewhat painless victory over the Copa's last remaining Concacaf nation. It was also Messi's 109th international goal, passing Ali Daei for second-most men's international goals of all time.

Canada, in quintessential Jesse Marsch fashion, started with a lot of energy as their high press aimed to make Argentina just as uncomfortable as the weather at MetLife stadium. Nashville SC's Jacob Shaffelburg tested Gonzalo Montiel's right side early in the game, but in the end, it came to nothing.

As the first half developed, that Canadian press and aggression deflated, and Argentina started to take more control as Messi attempted a low, left-footed shot in the 12th minute. Canada was not bowing down, and it looked to capitalize on loose possession, but it still couldn't find the right pass to fully threaten Argentina keeper Emiliano Martínez

And when you play Argentina, you have to take any chance you get, because if you don't, Lionel Scaloni's side will eventually make you pay.

They are, after all, FIFA's best-ranked team and World Cup and Copa América defending champions for a reason.

And in the 22nd minute, La Albiceleste took the lead following a great through ball from Rodrigo De Paul that found Àlvarez. It was Àlvarez's second goal in the tournament and again, just like in the opening game during the group stages, he initiated the scoring against Canada

The evaporation of Canada's in-your-face approach allowed Argentina to become the complete protagonists. As for Messi's first half? He was relatively quiet in terms of threat, but his movement in the midfield and ability to spread the ball around was present. In the 44th minute, a beautiful play between Ángel Dí María, Àlvarez and Messi nearly ended with the Inter Miami CF star scoring a goal, but Messi placed it just wide of Maxime Crépeau's net.

By the end of the first half, Argentina had more than 60% possession and eight attempts. Aside from an effort after a throw-in, which needed Martínez to deny Alphonso Davies, the defending Copa América champions were in full control.

In the end, the game was done and dusted after the first goal, and Argentina made it to yet another Copa América final. Next up for them is a return to Hard Rock Stadium and their home away from home of Miami. They await the winner of Wednesday's tasty fixture between Colombia and Uruguay.

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