Julian Alvarez proved his worth for Argentina as his goal set the tone and led the club to the Copa America final

After all, Lionel Messi was there too.

The Argentine had come in for his share of criticism in what had been a goalless run in the Copa America, and with good reason. His performances had been well below his usual standards in his country’s colours.

They beat Canada 2-0 in the Copa semi-final at MetLife Stadium to advance to Sunday’s final, where the winner of Colombia-Uruguay awaits. And in truth, it was never really exciting. La Albiceleste largely ran the game smoothly.

Julian Alvarez may have done enough to cement a place in the starting XI as the Man City forward finally found his best at the right time, while Messi was back to his old self.

Clean, concise and in the right place at the right time. Age aside, Messi remains crucial to Argentina’s success.

Canada offered some attacking ideas. They have certainly improved in such a short time under Jesse Marsch.

“I said it’s going to be hard to say goodbye when we’re all done because I’ve really enjoyed the process with this team and I think we’ve made a lot of progress together,” Marsch said after the game. “I took this job seven weeks ago. I couldn’t have imagined that I would be here now… I’m very happy with the team and very happy with the progress.”

Alphonso Davies caused trouble but was forced out of the game with an injury – and Canada’s dreams ended with his late substitution. Ultimately, they lacked the clinical nature of the reigning champions, and it showed.

And Argentina were simply stronger. Lionel Scaloni has now led this team to three consecutive tournament finals. There is a good chance he will be in contention for a third victory. GOAL analyzes the winners and losers of MetLife Stadium.