Messi, Argentina take out Canada 2-0 to open Copa America on bad field conditions

ATLANTA, GA – The Argentina National team defeated Team Canada 2-0 to open the Copa America tournament in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. More than 70,500 fans attended the Group A match.

Players from the Argentina side complained about the horrible state of the newly installed grass on the pitch.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez called the newly installed grass surface a “disaster.”

“The state of the pitch was a disaster,” the Aston Villa goalkeeper said. “Very bumpy. We must improve in this aspect, otherwise, Copa América will always appear at a lower level than the European Championship.”

Argentina failed to score in the first half of the match but managed to find the net in the 49th and 88th minutes to secure the win.

Midfielder Alexis Mac Allister assisted striker Julian Alvarez for the first goal in the 49th minute. In the 88th minute, Lionel Messi sent a rolling pass into the box for fellow forward Lautaro Martinez, who used his first touch to ground a shot under Canada goalie Maxime Crepeau.

As for the grass, it was installed just two days ago on top of the grass that the home team Atlanta Falcons usually play on.

The Five Stripers of MLS’s Atlanta FC also play on the field, but, again, on synthetic grass.

“It was like the game against Saudi Arabia in the 2022 World Cup, except that one had a good pitch [field],” Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni told reporters, referencing the Argentines’ opening-round loss at that tournament. “Better that we won, or else it would have appeared as an excuse.”

“Two days ago it was fake,” Scaloni said. “Then they patched panels of grass together. It’s painted to appear nicer than it is. The weird thing is we knew months ago we’d play here, so maybe things could’ve been done about the pitch quicker.”

Messi, however, did not use the pitch conditions as an excuse for La Albiceleste. He cited Canada’s physicality and counter-attack. He said the Canadians made it difficult for the Argentines to find spaces during their offensive possessions.

Argentina now leads Group A, while Canada has dropped to last place. Chile and Peru, who play on Friday in Arlington, Texas, are the other members of the group. Messi and the Argentines will face Chile on Tuesday in East Rutherford, N.J. They will take on Peru on June 29 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

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