Lionel Messi Scores 109th International Goal to Help Lead Argentina to Copa America Final

Lionel Messi helps lead Argentina to the brink of soccer history…

The 37-year-old Argentine soccer star scored his 109th international goal to help Argentina seal a 2-0 victory over Canada and earn a berth in this weekend’s Copa America final.

In the process, Argentina moved within one win of joining Spain as the only nations to win three straight major titles.

“It’s insane what this team has done, what the Argentina national team is doing,” Messi said Tuesday night. “For those who remain from the old guard, it’s beyond impressive that the national team is in another final.”

Julián Álvarez put the Albiceleste ahead in the 22nd minute, controlling a long pass from Rodrigo De Paul, taking two touches to get away from Moïse Bombito and slipping the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau for his ninth international goal.

Messi redirected Enzo Fernández’s shot following a poor Ismaël Koné clearance in off the face of Crépeau from 4 yards in the 51st for his first goal of the tournament.

Messi has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America play, three shy of the record. He has scored against 38 different nations.

“I wasn’t sure if Enzo’s ball was going to get in,” Messi said. “It was a reflex.”

Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 130 has more international goals than Messi, who turned 37 on June 24. Iran’s Ali Daei had 108 or 109 from 1993 to 2006, with a lingering dispute over whether a goal against Ecuador in 2000 occurred in a full international match.

With a victory on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste seek a record 16th Copa title when they play Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

“We have to enjoy every moment of what we’re are living,” Messi said. “I’m conscious that these are the last battles.”

Trying to string together Copa America titles around the 2022 World Cup championship, Argentina hopes to match Spain’s feat of winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.

“These are statistics. I’m not really interested about it,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said through a translator. “The most important thing is to win.”

Making his 38th Copa America appearance, Messi had missed Argentina’s group stage finale with a leg injury and was subdued while playing 90 minutes in the quarterfinal win over Ecuador. He was much more agile and shot just wide in the 12th and 44th minutes.

Messi had 45 touches and a 79% pass success rate.

“They make us pay on small details,” Crépeau said.

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