Messi breaks 71-year-old Copa America record Argentina's win over Canada

Argentina began its defense of the Copa America title with a 2-0 victory against Canada at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday.

Lionel Messi broke an appearance record which had stood for over 70 years by playing in his 35th Copa América match, and was at the heart of Argentina’s goals from Julián Álvarez and Lautaro Martínez.

Canada, appearing in this expanded edition of the Copa América for the first time, was a heavy underdog against the 15-time champion but did squander several promising opportunities to get on the scoresheet.

“This team creates scoring opportunities and defends like lions,” Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said after the match. “Yesterday, I said that Canada was going to be a difficult opponent and it was a good test for us. The important thing is that the team always responds, no matter what the game is like.”

Both teams had chances in a lively first half played in front of more than 70,000 fans. Ángel Di María couldn’t finish a one-on-one as Argentina counter-attacked from a corner, while Alexis Mac Allister saw his header saved by Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.

Canada’s best chance of the half fell to Stephen Eustáquio, but his headed effort was saved by Emi Martínez before Alphonso Davies missed the follow-up.

It was Argentina, however, which took the lead early in the second period.

Messi picked out Mac Allister with an excellent pass, and though the Liverpool midfielder couldn’t get a shot away, tangling awkwardly with Crépeau, he did set up Álvarez for the opening goal.

Messi had two scoring chances when he found himself in behind the Canadian defense, but on the first occasion he was denied by Crépeau and Derek Cornelius’ rear-guard efforts, and on the second his shot crept past the left-hand post.

Jonathan David missed an open header – perhaps Canada’s best chance of the match – in between Messi’s two breakaways, before Argentina finished off the contest with a superb team goal.

Brilliant build-up play enabled Messi to find Martínez, who slotted a shot through the legs of Crépeau to make it 2-0.

Argentina is now on a nine-match unbeaten run in the Copa América, having won the 2021 tournament as well as its third-place playoff against Chile in 2019. La Albiceleste have group-stage matches against Chile and then Peru in the coming days.

Victory in this year’s competition would be Argentina’s third-straight trophy in major tournaments having won the World Cup in 2022.


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