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Messi creates both goals as Argentina opens Copa America title defense by beating Canada 2-0

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Messi creates both goals as Argentina opens Copa America title defense by beating Canada 2-0
News

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Messi creates both goals as Argentina opens Copa America title defense by beating Canada 2-0

2024-06-21 11:12 Last Updated At:11:20

ATLANTA (AP) — Lionel Messi’s through ball led to Julián Álvarez’s goal in the 49th minute, then he assisted on Lautaro Martínez's goal in the 88th as Argentina began the defense of its Copa America title with a 2-0 victory over Canada on Thursday night.

Argentina is seeking its third straight major title after winning the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup.

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Argentina's Nahuel Molina, right, heads the ball past Canada's Alphonso Davies during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

ATLANTA (AP) — Lionel Messi’s through ball led to Julián Álvarez’s goal in the 49th minute, then he assisted on Lautaro Martínez's goal in the 88th as Argentina began the defense of its Copa America title with a 2-0 victory over Canada on Thursday night.

Argentina's Lionel Messi, above, and Canada's goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, above, and Canada's goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Cristian Romero goes for a header during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Cristian Romero goes for a header during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi blows a bubble ahead of a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi blows a bubble ahead of a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, and Canada's Stephen Eustaquio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, and Canada's Stephen Eustaquio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's players celebrate Julian Alvarez's opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's players celebrate Julian Alvarez's opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul smiles after his side's 2-0 victory over Canada in a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul smiles after his side's 2-0 victory over Canada in a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, and Canada's Jonathan Osorio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, and Canada's Jonathan Osorio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi falls over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi falls over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, grimaces after falling over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, grimaces after falling over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

"It's been a long time since we've done this," Messi said through a translator, “but we had patience to retain possession of the ball and it was hard to find the good open spaces.”

With South America’s championship moved to the United States for the second time, Messi set a Copa America record with his 35th match, one more than Chile’s Sergio Livingstone from 1941-53. Messi extended his own record with his 18th assist.

Messi, who turns 37 on Monday, created the first goal when following a throw-in, he headed a pass through the defense for Alexis MacAllister. The midfielder side-footed a pass to Álvarez while crashing into an onrushing goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau about 8 yards out. Álvarez had a virtually empty net and kicked the ball in over a sliding defender for his eighth goal in 32 international appearances.

Messi extended his Copa America record when he ran through the center of the midfield and rolled a perfectly weighted pass to Martínez, who had entered in the 76th minute and slotted it past Crépeau for his 25th international goal.

Argentina had a 12-3 shots advantage in the second half and Messi failed to convert on a pair of excellent chances. Crépeau made a diving stop in the 65th minute and Messi’s attempt off the rebound was blocked by the head of defender Derek Cornelius. Messi put a chip wide after he came in alone on Crépeau in the 79th.

He was shaken up by a sliding tackle from defender Moïse Bombito in the 82nd minute, but remained in the game.

“It was physically intense,” Messi said.

Argentina plays Chile on Tuesday at East Rutherford, New Jersey, then closes the first round against Peru on June 29 at Miami Gardens, Florida. Canada faces Peru on Tuesday at Kansas City, Kansas, and finishes the group stage against Chile on June 29 at Orlando, Florida.

Fourteen U.S. stadiums are hosting the tournament, which runs through June 14 and ends at Miami Gardens, Florida. Six nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean were added to the 10 South American teams, just as in the centennial Copa America in 2016.

Slow starts did not prevent the Albiceleste from winning their previous two tournaments. Argentina opened the 2022 World Cup with a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia and began the 2021 Copa America with a 1-1 draw against Chile.

Canada made its Copa America debut and played its first competitive match under American coach Jesse Marsch, hired on May 13. The Canadians have not scored in three games under Marsch.

Grass was installed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after a Major League Soccer game Saturday on the usual artificial turf.

“The pitch wasn't great. It was very bumpy,” Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez said. “It was hard for us. We normally — we like the pitch to be quite slippery and quick for our game, our style of the game.”

Argentina started eight players who began the 2022 World Cup final victory over France, inserting central defender Lisandro Martínez, left back Marcos Acuña and Leandro Paredes for Nicolás Otamendi, Nicolás Tagliafico and Enzo Fernández.

Emiliano Martínez was tested in the 43rd minute, when he used his left hand to bat away a bounced header by Stephen Eustáquio.

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Argentina's Nahuel Molina, right, heads the ball past Canada's Alphonso Davies during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Nahuel Molina, right, heads the ball past Canada's Alphonso Davies during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, above, and Canada's goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, above, and Canada's goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Cristian Romero goes for a header during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Cristian Romero goes for a header during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi blows a bubble ahead of a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi blows a bubble ahead of a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, and Canada's Stephen Eustaquio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, and Canada's Stephen Eustaquio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's players celebrate Julian Alvarez's opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's players celebrate Julian Alvarez's opening goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul smiles after his side's 2-0 victory over Canada in a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul smiles after his side's 2-0 victory over Canada in a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lautaro Martinez celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Canada during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, and Canada's Jonathan Osorio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, and Canada's Jonathan Osorio battle for the ball during a Copa America Group A soccer match in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi falls over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi falls over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, grimaces after falling over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Argentina's Lionel Messi, 10, grimaces after falling over during a Copa America Group A soccer match against Canada in Atlanta, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The third day of the Republican National Convention kicks off Wednesday with Republicans — led by the newly nominated Donald Trump and JD Vance — shifting to issues of national security and foreign policy.

Republicans are expected to focus on Democratic President Joe Biden's handling of the ongoing crises in Europe and the Middle East. Former Trump administration officials are expected to take the stage to outline what foreign policy would look like in a second Trump term.

The lineup will include speeches from Richard Grenell, Trump's former acting director of national intelligence, and Scott Neil, who served as a Green Beret in Afghanistan.

And Vance is expected to accept his party's nomination for vice president.

Here’s what to watch for on the third day of the RNC:

Despite his relative celebrity after publishing the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” the 39-year-old Ohio senator is unknown to many Americans — and even to many top Republicans in Milwaukee. He'll get the chance to address a national audience Wednesday night.

Expect a speech that introduces his family — his wife, Usha, and their three children — and his endorsement of Trump's policies.

Vance beat out North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to be Trump's running mate. He has developed a strong rapport with the former president over the years, speaking regularly by phone.

Trump has also complimented Vance’s beard, saying he “looks like a young Abraham Lincoln."

Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro was released from a Florida prison on Wednesday and is expected to speak hours later at the Republican National Convention.

Navarro, who was a Trump trade adviser, was released from custody after completing a four-month sentence for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Navarro will head straight to Milwaukee to speak at the third night of the RNC. He is set to speak in the 6 p.m. hour Central time, according to a person familiar with the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the schedule’s official release.

Many of the speeches Wednesday will take aim at the Biden administration's handling of global issues, including the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, with the theme of “Make America Strong Once Again.”

“Under Joe Biden, the weakest commander-in-chief in our country’s history, America has become a global laughingstock,” the committee claimed in a statement.

Republicans see foreign policy as one of their strongest campaign issues, arguing that America's standing on the world stage was stronger under Trump despite the party's growing isolationist shift.

“I can tell you, countries around the world, leaders, are absolutely uncomfortable with the unpredictability of Donald Trump," Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, said during a reporters' roundtable Monday. “And when I say uncomfortable, that means they don’t know exactly what he’s going to do next. And that’s a positive for us.”

It is an argument he will likely make again Wednesday night.

While the focus of Wednesday's session is expected to be beyond America's borders, Republicans are expected to also highlight how Biden's supposed “weakness” on immigration is also endangering the U.S. reputation abroad. Many speakers have already documented claims that a growing number of foreign terrorists have been able to illegally get into the U.S. from Mexico. Republicans have pointed to the arrests last month on U.S. soil of eight people from Tajikistan with suspected ties to the Islamic State group.

Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Follow the AP's coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

A supporter holds his hat during the national anthem at the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A supporter holds his hat during the national anthem at the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Georgia delegate Kathleen Thornman takes a picture with her phone during the Republican National Convention Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Georgia delegate Kathleen Thornman takes a picture with her phone during the Republican National Convention Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Delegates dance during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Delegates dance during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is seen during a walkthrough for the Republican National Convention Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is seen during a walkthrough for the Republican National Convention Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Texas delegates cheer during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Texas delegates cheer during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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