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Messi leads Argentina into Copa final

Lionel says he is enjoying 'last battles' for Argentina

July 11, 2024 00:00:00

Argentina's Lionel Messi kicks his shot on target against Canada's Moïse Bombito and Stephen Eustaquio during the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 semifinal match at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Wednesday (as per BST) — AFP

Lionel Messi helped guide Argentina to this year's Copa América final after scoring in his nation's 2-0 win against Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday's (as per BST), report agencies.

The 37-year-old scored early in the second half to double Argentina's lead after Julián Álvarez had given La Albiceleste a first-half lead.

It means Argentina has now reached the Copa América final in six of the previous eight tournaments, with this being its second in row - the South American side won the 2021 title.

The final, against either Uruguay or Colombia, will be Angel di Maria's final appearance for Argentina before his international retirement and there are also doubts over Messi's long-term future.

"Let's enjoy what we are experiencing as a national team, as a group. It is not easy to be in a final again, to compete again to be champions," Messi told TyC Sports.

"I'm living it as I have been living everything lately - enjoying it very much and being aware, as it happens to Fideo (Di Maria) and Ota (Nicolas Otamendi), that these are the last battles."

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni says he will work to "convince" Di Maria and Messi to continue with international duty.

"For Leo (Messi), it's similar to Angel," said Scaloni.

"We have to let him be and we will never be the ones to close the door. He can be with our team for as long as he wants to be. And if he wants to retire but still come and hang around, it would be great."

Canada head coach Jesse Marsch told reporters before the semifinal that he was aware just how difficult it would be to play Argentina, but his side started well against the reigning world champion.

Canada winger Jacob Shaffelburg, though, was made to rue two missed opportunities in the early stages as Argentina striker Álvarez opened the scoring with a composed touch and finish in the 22nd minute.

The goal was a sign of the quality that Canada, the world No. 48, was up against.

Messi, possibly playing at his final Copa América for Argentina, then started finding his stride and went close twice before the end of the first half.

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