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PIX: Argentina down Canada in Copa America opener

June 21, 2024 11:44 IST
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IMAGE: Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring Argentina's second goal against Canada in opening game of Copa America in Atlanta on Thursday. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian TPX/Reuters

Defending Copa America champions Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in the opening match of the tournament in Atlanta on Thursday with forwards Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez scoring second-half goals to seal the Group A victory.


Alvarez broke the deadlock in the 49th minute with Martinez ensuring victory two minutes from time.

Lionel Messi marked his record 35th match in his seventh Copa America tournament, surpassing Chilean goalkeeper Sergio Livingstone's record of 34 appearances between 1942 and 1953.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew that Canada was going to be a hard team to go against," Messi told Fox via a translator.

"They were physical, very physical. In the first half, there was little space. It was intense, physically intense and strong and then in the second half we were able to progress and get better."

IMAGE: Lionel Messi dribbles his way past Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian TPX/Reuters

Canada gave Argentina a run for their money in the first half and nearly found a breakthrough just before halftime.

Cyle Larin's cross into the box found Stephen Eustaquio, whose header was saved by Emiliano Martinez. Alphonso Davies' subsequent shot soared over the bar.

Argentina seized control in the second half after a challenging first 45 minutes. The breakthrough came when Messi's pass led Alexis Mac Allister into the box.

IMAGE: Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the opening goal for Argentina. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian TPX/Reuters

The midfielder collided with oncoming Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, allowing the ball to slip free for Alvarez to end his 13-match international goal drought.

Alvarez's last goals came during the 2022 World Cup semi-finals against Croatia.

Messi came close to finding the back of the net in the 65th minute but his shot was saved by Crepeau and his rebound effort was headed away by defender Derek Cornelius. He had another chance in the 80th minute but his shot rolled just wide.

IMAGE: Argentina's players celebrate after Lautaro Martinez scored the second goal against Canada. Photograph: Agustin Marcarian TPX/Reuters

Messi then set up substitute Martinez for Argentina's second, Serie A's top goalscorer squeezing his shot under Crepeau.

"We've been in that situation before in the World Cup and we know that we have to bounce back in the second game," Canada's Eustaquio told TSN.

Chile and Peru, the other teams in Group A, play their opener on Friday in Arlington, Texas. In the group's next set of fixtures on Tuesday, Argentina face Chile while Canada take on Peru.

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