Argentina shot down Canada as Messi hits Copa America record

Defending champions Argentina beat Canada in the opening game of the Copa America in Atlanta, Georgia.

Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez opened the scoring from close range four minutes into the second half.

Substitute Lautaro Martinez confirmed the win late on when turning in Lionel Messi’s pass.

Victory in Group A stretches Argentina’s unbeaten record at the Copa America to nine matches, having won the 2021 edition in Brazil and a third-place play-off two years previously.

The 2022 World Cup winners face Chile next at 02:00 BST on 26 June. Canada, who are managed by former Leeds boss Jesse Marsch, meet Peru at 23:00 BST on 25 June.

This year’s Copa America is being hosted in the United States with a mixture of Major League Soccer (MLS) and NFL stadiums picked as venues.

The pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is the regular home of MLS side Atlanta United and NFL franchise Atlanta Falcons, came in for criticism from Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni.

It usually has an artificial pitch but a temporary grass surface was installed for this tournament.

“With all due respect, thank goodness we won,” Scaloni said.

“Otherwise, it would have been a cheap excuse. We have known for seven months that we are going to play here and they changed the turf two days ago.

“It is not good for the show. It is not an excuse. The stadium is beautiful and with synthetic turf it must be spectacular, but with today’s turf it is not suitable for this kind of players.”