Messi’s 109th goal leads defending champion Argentina into Copa America final

AP

Photo: AP

Lionel Messi scored his 109th international goal and first of the tournament, leading defending champion Argentina over Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night and into the Copa America final.

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

With a victory on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste seek a record 16th Copa title when they play Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

“It’s insane what this team has done, what the Argentina national team is doing,” Messi said. “For those who remain from the old guard, it’s beyond impressive that the national team is in another final.”

Argentina fans gathered in Times Square on the eve of the match and filled the streets on Manhattan before heading to MetLife Stadium, site of the 2026 World Cup final. The crowd of 80,102 on a night with an 82-degree temperature and 82% humidity was overwhelmingly pro-Argentina, with only a few sections dominated by red-clad Canadian supporters.

Making his 38th Copa America appearance, Messi had missed Argentina’s group stage finale with a leg injury and was subdued while playing 90 minutes in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador.

He was just wide from the top of the penalty area in the 12th minute after exchanging passes with Ángel Di María, then wide again in the 44th and put a chip over the crossbar in first-half injury time.

“It’s has been a very difficult Copa América, very competitive, bad surfaces, excessive heat,” Messi said.

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