Goals from Messi and Alvarez ensure the world champions and Copa America holders reach the final in Miami on Sunday.

Defending champions Argentina secured a place in the Copa America final thanks to goals from Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi as they beat Canada 2-0.

Argentina will face Uruguay or Colombia in the final in Florida on Sunday, a match that could be the last chance for silverware for several seniors, including Messi, Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi.

“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 fight again to be champions,” Messi said after Tuesday’s semi-final in New Jersey.

“I experience it as I experience everything lately: I enjoy it enormously and I realise, as happens to Fideo (Di Maria) and Ota (Otamendi), that these are the last fights.”

Argentina have won a record 15 Copa titles and reached the final six times in the last eight editions, but Canada gave them real problems in the opening 20 minutes when Jacob Shaffelburg twice missed from promising positions.

After withstanding early pressure, Argentina took the lead when Rodrigo De Paul got past Alvarez. Alvarez played between two defenders and scored a fine goal in the 22nd minute.

Argentina, winners of the 2022 World Cup and number one in the FIFA rankings, gradually took the lead and Messi had a chance to double the lead in the 44th minute. He created space in the penalty area with silky footwork, but then sent his shot wide.

Canada nearly equalized against the odds in first-half injury time. Jonathan David slid past his defender on a long throw-in, but his close-range shot went straight at goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Messi had been bothered by a muscle injury earlier in the tournament but looked rejuvenated on a hot and humid evening at MetLife Stadium.

In the 51st minute he scored Argentina’s second goal, deflecting Enzo Fernandez’s shot from the edge of the penalty area past Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.

The goal moves Messi into fifth place on the all-time Copa America scorers list, level with Peru’s Paolo Guerrero and Chile’s Eduardo Vargas.

His 109th goal for Argentina also saw him surpass Iran’s Ali Daei for sole possession of second place on the all-time international goalscorer list, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 130 goals for Portugal.

Despite holding a two-goal lead, Argentina endured a nerve-wracking end to the match when Canadian substitute Tani Oluwaseyi tested Martinez with a fine shot in the 89th minute, only to head the ball wide a minute later.

For Canada, the defeat ends a remarkable run in which they exceeded expectations and outperformed their higher-ranked CONCACAF rivals Mexico and the United States, their co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

“They are the best team in the world, but at the same time we had our chances early in the game,” midfielder Stephen Eustaquio told Canadian broadcaster TSN.

“If we had scored one of our chances, the story of the game would probably have been different. To get here, to the last four of the Copa America, is a big achievement.”