Copa America 2024: Highlights as Messi and Argentina roll through Canada, 2-0

Lionel Messi waited until the 88th minute to leave his mark in the Copa America 2024 opener.

Messi delivered an assist to Lautaro Martinez, while Julián Álvarez scored shortly after halftime to help Argentina beat Canada 2-0 on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Messi had at least four chances to score himself in the match: once in the first half, two breakaway attempts in the second half, and a missed free kick before the final buzzer.

Messi, playing in his 35th career Copa America match, was unable to get the best of Canada goalie Maxime Crépeau until his crafty assist.

Still, Argentina begins Copa America with three points in Group A, while Canada takes the loss in its first Copa America match in history and zero points.

Argentina next faces Chile at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey on Tuesday, one day after Messi’s 37th birthday. Canada’s next match is on the same day, against Peru at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Argentina vs. Canada highlights

Argentina went on the attack early but Canadian keeper Maxime Crépeau kept them out of the net in the first half. Multiple shots from Messi couldn't connect as the score remained 0-0.

Canada's star Alphonso Davies led an aggressive attack from the underdogs. Canada had multiple chances in the first half but couldn't connect, either.

Just minutes into the second half, the tie was broken. Argentina's Julián Álvarez took a pass from Alexis Mac Allister and buried the ball in the corner of the net.

Messi came so close later on with multiple chances on a breakaway but couldn't find the net.

The best player in the tournament did find a way to the box score, though, with his pass to Lautaro Martinez for the second goal of the game.

When does Argentina play next?

Argentina faces off against Chile on Tuesday in the second game of Group A action. That match kicks off at 9 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

When does Canada play next?

Canada looks to earn their second win of the year Tuesday against Peru. Kick off is set for 6 p.m. ET from Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Alphonso Davies goes down on a late tackle, yellow card given

Giovani Lo Celso's late tackle on Canada's best player earned Argentina its second yellow of the game.

Five minutes of extra time

Officials added five minutes of extra time to this one as Argentina leads 2-0.

Messi assist leads to goal: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Messi finally breaks through, delivering an assist in the 88th minute to Lautaro Martinez to give Argentina a 2-0 lead over Canada.

It took Messi all match. But he finally left his mark.

Late substitutions for Canada

Manager Jesse Marsch sent in two players off the bench for Canada: Jonathan Osorio for Ismaël Koné and Jacen Russell-Rowe for Liam Millar in the 87th minute.

Training staff comes onto the pitch for Messi

Messi was challenged by by Canada's Moïse Bombito, who collided into Messi’s right foot after a full extension tackle. Messi went down after the play but he stayed in the match and re-entered in the 85th minute.

Messi misses again: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Messi laid face down on the pitch, his third time with a chance to score.

His chip shot was no good.

Messi was in disbelief.

Three chances at the net, and each time to no avail.

Still, he was serenaded by Argentine fans after the sequence. “Messi! Messi! Messi!”

Yellow card on Canada's Ismaël Koné

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul was on a breakaway in the 81st minute before contact from Koné tripped him up and stopped the attack. Koné earned the first yellow of the game for that.

Messi misses long ball chance: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Lionel Messi tracked the pass over his shoulders from goalie Dibu Martinez and went to work. Messi got a shot off, blocked by Canada goalie Maxime Crépeau. Messi quickly chased down his rebound and took another shot, but it was knocked off the head of Canada defender Derek Cornelius.

Messi couldn’t believe he missed such a prime opportunity. All Messi could do was hunch over to catch his breath, then raise his hand toward Martinez to say thanks for the pass from the other side of the pitch. Argentine fans still thanked Messi for his all-out effort, chanting his name as play resumed.

Julián Álvarez goal: Argentina 1, Canada 0

Three minutes after halftime, Argentina has found the back of the bet. Julián Álvarez finished a pass dropped off by Alexis Mac Allister, and Argentina takes a 1-0 lead over Canada to begin the second half.

The goal celebration turned into an injury huddle for Mac Allister, who was clobbered before his assist. It was a sight to see: The Argentine players huddled around him, and he rose to his feet as they celebrated their 1-0 lead.

Halftime update: Argentina 0, Canada 0

At least two exciting chances by both teams, but the first half of the 2024 Copa America opener was a scoreless affair by Argentina and Canada. Argentine stars Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria had chances in the first 20 minutes: Messi missed a shot wide right, and Di Maria missed a chip shot blocked by the goalie.

Canada’s Tajon Buchanan and Stephen Eustáquio missed chances, but captain Alphonso Davies has pushed the pace well in the country’s first Copa America game – coming against the defending Copa and World Cup champions.

Canada attack can't convert: Argentina 0, Canada 0

Canada's knocking on the door but Argentina isn't answering. Argentina’s goalie Dibu Martinez saved a header from Canada’s Stephen Eustáquio in the 44th minute. Jonathan David's shot attempt right after sailed just above the goal.

Alphonso Davies on the attack for Canada in the first half

Canada's young star has powered multiple attacks in the first half in the Copa America opener.

Crépeau with an aggressive clearance for Canada

The Canadian goalkeeper sprinted outside of the box to clear an attack by Argentina in the 38th minute.

Buchanan's shot wide right for Canada

One of Canada's best chances came with a sprinting Alphonso Davies firing a pass toward Tajon Buchanan in the box. Interference changed the angle of the ball and Buchanan's shot ends up wide of the goal.

David draws foul on De Paul to stymie Argentina attack

Canada's young star drew a foul - the fourth on Argentina in the first 20 minutes - to stop Argentina as it was regrouping for an attack near midfield.

Messi misses another shot, this time close: Argentina 0, Canada 0

Messi’s second shot in this game inside the box was blocked by Canada’s Derek Cornelius in the 17th minute.It’s been a bit of a rough start for the Argentinians with Canada’s persistence in the opening 20 minutes.

Messi misses open shot wide right: Argentina 0, Canada 0

So close, Messi. So close.

Still, the crowd in Mercedes-Benz Stadium chants his name. Maybe, the encouragement will help.

Messi was offsides, but he nearly had another Messi moment just before the 10th minute, missing a shot from his legendary left boot past the far right post.

Messi makes Copa America history with start

Messi has started 35 Copa America games, setting a new record in the tournament’s history in Thursday’s opener against Canada.

Argentina gets a breakaway but can't convert

Canada survived with a great save in the box from keeper Maxime Crépeau. Angel Di Maria had a straight away run toward the net after a steal, and tried to do a bicycle kick, but both chances were to no avail.

Messi takes some contact on first touch: Argentina 0, Canada 0

Messi appeared to take some contact as two Canadian players converged next to him on his first touch of the game. Messi did fall to the pitch, but got up.  Although he flexed his legendary left leg, Messi is okay and resumed play.

Argentina vs. Canada kickoff nears:

Some Thoughts before kickoff, to say it’s 90 percent of Argentina fans might be an understatement. Maybe at least 95 percent? It’s an overwhelming difference in crowd support for Lionel Messi and the world champions.

It’ll be a monumental challenge for Canada, playing in its first Copa America appearance, but the atmosphere in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is electric.

What time is Argentina vs. Canada Copa América match?

Argentina and Canada will kickoff at 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. in Argentina.

How to watch Argentina vs. Canada: TV and live stream?

Argentina vs. Canada will broadcast on FS1 and FS2 (in English) or TUDN and Univision (in Spanish).

WATCH: Messi, Argentina in action during Copa America on Fubo

Will Lionel Messi play?

Yes. Messi is expected to start and play in Argentina’s Copa América run this summer, beginning with the Canada match.

Copa América: Argentina vs. Canada odds

Argentina is the heavy favorite to win the Copa América opener in Atlanta, per odds from BetMGM.

  • Moneyline: Argentina (-300), Canada (+875), tie (+425)

  • Over/under: 2.5 goals

WANNA BET? Check out new customer offers with the best online sportsbooks and sports betting apps

Argentina fans descend on Atlanta for Copa America

“Ar-gen-tin-a! Ar-gen-tin-a!” fans of the World Cup champions said in unison, anxiously waiting for beloved soccer star Messi to step off the team’s bus parked in front of The Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Read more about Argentina’s fans before Thursday’s match.

Messi leaves door open to play in World Cup

Messi remains the face of Argentina’s national team. He’ll be the star attraction in Copa América. And he’s open to playing in the next World Cup in 2026 — if his body holds up.

“It depends on how I feel, how I am physically and being realistic with myself. And to know if I am up to the task of being able to compete and help the colleagues next to me,” Messi said. “There's a while left and I don't know how I'm going to be at that moment.”

Messi says ‘there’s not a lot of time left’ in career

“I’ve done this all of my life. I love playing ball. I enjoy the training, the day to day, the games. Yeah, there’s a bit of fear that it’s all ending. It’s always there,” Messi told ESPN Argentina.

“It was a difficult step leaving Europe to come [to the United States] The fact we won the World Cup helped. It helped a lot, to see things in another way. But I try not to think about [retiring]. I try to enjoy it. I do that more now because I’m aware that there’s not a lot of time left.”

Copa America Tickets: How to buy and prices for tournament tickets

Tickets for Copa America games are being sold through the various venues' preferred partners, like StubHub or SeatGeek. For example, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, sells tickets on SeatGeek with prices for Sunday's game between the U.S. and Bolivia starting at $44.

The lowest prices for tickets for each game typically run between $40 and $60 at time of publishing, with one exception: Argentina. The best player in the tournament is superstar Lionel Messi and tickets for all of Argentina's games are much more expensive. Tickets for today's game between Argentina and Canada start at $185 at time of publishing. Tickets for Argentina's game against Chile at MetLife Stadium next Tuesday in East Rutherford, New Jersey start at $291 at time of publishing.

Messi drink, Bad Boys commercial

Messi has a new drink, Mas+, debuting in the U.S. He was the hilarious punchline in a "Bad Boys" movie promo with movie stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. And if soccer fans aren’t already, they’ll be singing “O-Lays, O-Lays, O-Lays, O-Lays” after his commercials for Lays chips and other companies air all summer long.

Copa America: Argentina vs. Canada predictions

The Sporting News: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Kyle Bonn says: "Argentina won't face a Copa America title contender until the final, and failing to reach that stage would be an enormous disappointment. In truth, they should win every game comfortably up to that point, although winning 'comfortably' for Argentina can sometimes end up as 1-0 or 2-0 victories."

Sports Mole: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Ben Sully writes: "With Canada boasting talented players like [Alphonso] Davies and [Jonathan] David, they have enough quality in their squad to cause the defending champions a few problems, but we believe Argentina's array of world-class talent will ultimately shine through to claim a routine victory."

Sportskeeda: Argentina 2, Canada 0

Shambhu Ajith says: "Despite having a star-studded side led by Lionel Messi, this won't be a walk in the park for Argentina. Canada have some quality in their rainks too, with players like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David having already proven their mettle playing in Europe. Despite that, Argentina should be able to kickstart their Copa America title defense with an important win on Thursday."

The Hard Tackle: Argentina 3, Canada 1

Staff write: "Canada have an excellent opportunity to test themselves against world football’s premier international side and will hope to make an impact. However, Argentina have enough strength in depth and match winners on the field to sway the tide in their favour. Having [Jonathan] David square off against the slower [Nicolas] Otamedi could give Canada some joy but the game should prove to be a convincing win for Argentina."

Lionel Messi and Argentina arrive:

Copa America is almost here as Lionel Messi has arrived to the delight of the crowd.

Argentina men's football team roster 

Professional club in parentheses.

  • GK Franco Armani (River Plate)

  • DF Lucas Martínez Quarta (Fiorentina)

  • DF Nicolás Tagliafico (Lyon)

  • DF Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest)

  • MF Leandro Paredes (Roma)

  • DF Germán Pezzella (Real Betis)

  • MF Rodrigo De Paul (Atlético Madrid)

  • DF Marcos Acuña (Sevilla)

  • FW Julián Álvarez (Manchester City)

  • FW Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) - captain

  • FW Ángel Di María (Benfica) - vice-captain

  • GK Gerónimo Rulli (Ajax)

  • DF Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur)

  • MF Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen)

  • FW Nicolás González (Fiorentina)

  • MF Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur)

  • FW Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United)

  • MF Guido Rodríguez (Real Betis)

  • DF Nicolás Otamendi (Benfica)

  • MF Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool)

  • MF Valentín Carboni (Monza)

  • FW Lautaro Martínez (Inter Milan)

  • GK Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

  • MF Enzo Fernández (Chelsea)

  • DF Lisandro Martínez (Manchester United)

  • DF Nahuel Molina (Atlético Madrid)

Canada men's football team roster 

Professional club in parentheses.

  • GK Dayne St. Clair (Minnesota United)

  • DF Alistair Johnston (Celtic)

  • DF Luc de Fougerolles (Fulham)

  • DF Kamal Miller (Portland Timbers)

  • DF Joel Waterman (CF Montréal)

  • MF Samuel Piette (CF Montréal)

  • MF Stephen Eustáquio (Porto) - vice-captain

  • MF Ismaël Koné (Watford)

  • FW Cyle Larin (Mallorca)

  • FW Jonathan David (Lille)

  • FW Theo Bair (Motherwell)

  • FW Jacen Russell-Rowe (Columbus Crew)

  • DF Derek Cornelius (Malmö FF)

  • FW Jacob Shaffelburg (Nashville SC)

  • DF Moïse Bombito (Colorado Rapids)

  • GK Maxime Crépeau (Portland Timbers)

  • FW Tajon Buchanan (Inter Milan)

  • GK Tom McGill (Brighton & Hove Albion)

  • DF Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) - captain

  • DF Ali Ahmed (Vancouver Whitecaps)

  • MF Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC)

  • DF Richie Laryea (Toronto FC)

  • FW Liam Millar (Preston North End)

  • MF Mathieu Choinière (CF Montréal)

  • FW Tani Oluwaseyi (Minnesota United)

  • DF Kyle Hiebert (St. Louis City)

Canada National Team Starting Lineup

Argentina National Starting Lineup:

Argentina players to watch

La Albiceleste are bringing a star-studded roster to this year's Copa America, led by international star Lionel Messi. He's been a pillar of the team for nearly two decades and looks to add to his all-time best 108 goal tally for the national team.

Inter Milan captain Lautaro Martínez is in great form lately. He has three goals and an assist in Argentina's last four games, including two goals in a 4-1 win over Guatemala last week in the squad's final tune up prior to this tournament. The 26-year-old's growing into a bigger role on the team with Messi's future in doubt past.

Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez is another rising star for La Albiceleste. Nicknamed "The Spider" with a goal celebration that imitates Spider-Man, Alvarez scored four goals in his first World Cup in 2022, the youngest player to do so since Pelé. He helped Manchester City capture the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League titles this season.

Canada players to watch

Full back Alphonso Davies is a star and, even at 23 years old, one of the best North American soccer players in the world. He joined Bundesliga and European powerhouse Bayern Munich in 2018 and made his debut on the first team just before his 19th birthday. He's a proven player and one of the best in the Copa America tournament. Canada's future goes through Davies.

Striker Jonathan David is another star for the Canadian team. The Lille star finished second only to Kylian Mbappe in Ligue 1 in goals scored last season.

Lionel Messi gets introduced in Atlanta

With the game nearing, Messi was introduced to the roar of the crowd.

Team Canada highlights:

Canada lost to the Netherlands and tied with France in two friendlies in June. Prior to that, the team earned a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Cyle Larin scored the first goal of the game shortly after halftime.

Jacob Shaffelburg scored in extra time to make it 2-0 by the final whistle.

Team Argentina highlights 

Argentina's lost just one international match since winning the 2022 World Cup. Last week, the team earned a win over Guatemala in a final tuneup prior to Copa America.

After an own goal four minutes into the match, star Lionel Messi easily scored an early equalizer less than 10 minutes later.

Lautaro Martínez added on the go-ahead score just before half time. Both he and Messi scored again in the second half to put the game away 4-1.

Copa America bracket: Calendar for tournament games

All times ET.

Thursday, June 20

  • Argentina vs. Canada, 8 p.m., Atlanta

Friday, June 21

  • Peru vs. Chile, 8 p.m., Arlington, Texas

Saturday, June 22

  • Ecuador vs. Venezuela, 6 p.m., Santa Clara, California

  • Mexico vs. Jamaica, 9 p.m., Houston

Sunday, June 23

  • U.S. vs. Bolivia, 6 p.m., Arlington, Texas

  • Uruguay vs. Panama, 9 p.m., Miami

Monday, June 24

  • Colombia vs. Paraguay, 6 p.m., Houston

  • Brazil vs. Costa Rica, 9 p.m., Inglewood, California

Tuesday, June 25

  • Peru vs. Canada, 6 p.m., Kansas City, Kansas

  • Chile vs. Argentina, 9 p.m., East Rutherford, New Jersey

Wednesday, June 26

  • Ecuador vs. Jamaica, 6 p.m., Las Vegas

  • Chile vs. Argentina, 9 p.m., East Rutherford, New Jersey

Thursday, June 27

  • Panama vs. U.S., 6 p.m., Atlanta

  • Uruguay vs. Bolivia, 9 p.m., East Rutherford, New Jersey

Friday, June 28

  • Colombia vs. Costa Rica, 6 p.m., Glendale, Arizona

  • Paraguay vs. Brazil, 9 p.m., Las Vegas

Saturday, June 29

  • Argentina vs. Peru, 8 p.m., Miami

  • Canada vs. Chile, 8 p.m., Orlando, Florida

Sunday, June 30

  • Jamaica vs. Venezuela, 8 p.m., Austin, Texas

  • Mexico vs. Ecuador, 8 p.m., Glendale, Arizona

Monday, July 1

  • Bolivia vs. Panama, 9 p.m., Orlando, Florida

  • U.S. vs. Uruguay, 9 p.m., Kansas City, Kansas

Tuesday, July 2

  • Brazil vs. Colombia, 9 p.m., Santa Clara, California

  • Costa Rica vs. Paraguay, 9 p.m., Austin, Texas

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Argentina-Canada highlights: Messi, Argentina get Copa America win