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In a highly anticipated Group A matchup at the 2024 Copa América, Argentina commenced their title defense with a solid 2-0 victory over Canada at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night. The match was highlighted by Lionel Messi’s instrumental contributions, proving once again why he remains a pivotal figure in international football.

The game saw Argentina dominate possession from the start, but they struggled initially to break down Canada’s resilient defense. The breakthrough came early in the second half when Messi, in his record-breaking 35th Copa América appearance, delivered a sublime through ball that found Julián Álvarez in stride. Álvarez calmly finished past the Canadian goalkeeper in the 49th minute, setting the tone for Argentina’s quest to secure their third consecutive major title.

As the match progressed, Canada’s defensive efforts continued to frustrate Argentina’s attacking prowess. However, Messi’s influence grew stronger as the game neared its conclusion. In the 88th minute, he orchestrated another crucial play, delivering a precise assist to Lautaro Martínez who clinically doubled Argentina’s lead with a well-taken goal.

The match wasn’t without its moments of tension for Argentina, particularly when Messi was on the receiving end of a robust challenge from Canadian defender Moïse Bombito in the 82nd minute. Despite the collision, Messi demonstrated his resilience by staying on the field, much to the relief of Argentina’s fans and coaching staff.

With this victory, Argentina has set a positive tone early in the tournament, aiming to replicate their successes from the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 World Cup. The shift of South America’s premier football competition to the United States for the second time has added a unique dimension, with matches spread across fourteen different stadiums.

Looking ahead, Argentina will face Chile next at East Rutherford, New Jersey, followed by a final group stage encounter against Peru in Miami Gardens, Florida. On the other hand, Canada will regroup for their upcoming fixtures against Peru in Kansas City and Chile in Orlando, as they seek to progress beyond the group stages.

The 2024 Copa América promises to be a riveting spectacle, blending the flair of South American football with the competitive edge brought by the inclusion of six Concacaf nations alongside the traditional ten South American teams. As the tournament unfolds towards its conclusion at Miami Gardens on June 14, football enthusiasts worldwide eagerly await more thrilling displays of skill and determination on the pitch.

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