Argentina's tight win, Messi's tight hamstring, and an assault that shocked France

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Hello! It was Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose. Now it is Lionel Messi’s hamstring…

On the way:

😬 Messi concern in Argentina win

🐎 Austria: the Euros’ dark horses?

🗣️ Dissent towards England and Southgate

🇫🇷 Mary Earps looks PSG-bound

Copa Corner – Messi: ‘We’ll see how it goes’ PremSportsTV c28328 video to gif converter 1 1

This time in 2026, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium will be hosting the World Cup final. The venue on the outskirts of New York City got a little warm-up last night, in the presence of a mega crowd — 81,106. That’s one of the highest attendances in Copa America history and more than for any European Championship game ever.

Times Square in Manhattan was flooded with the blue and white shirts of Argentina (below) as Lionel Messi and his mates pulled in the punters and, by a fine margin, gave those fans the result they were expecting against Chile.

It was a little like Brazil’s fruitless slog against Costa Rica 24 hours earlier: stacks of possession and stacks of chances. Messi hit a post from 30 yards but Lautaro Martinez mastered the pinball machine to break the dam (above) in the 88th minute, sealing a 1-0 win.

Argentina fans flood Times square 1

(Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Smiles all round — until Messi revealed that one of his hamstrings was playing up. He had treatment in the first half and battled through 90 minutes. “It was tight,” said the man who turned 37 on Monday. “It wasn’t as loose as it should’ve been. We’ll see how it goes.”

This is the Copa’s answer to the Kylian Mbappe drama for France at the Euros. Argentina play next against Peru on Saturday (early Sunday UK time). Watch this space.

Assistant referee collapses

Assistant ref

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the temperature during Canada’s 1-0 victory over Peru got so high that one of the game’s assistant referees, Humberto Panjoj, fainted in the first half. Best wishes to him.

That alone took some gloss off a healthy result for Jesse Marsch, earned by Jonathan David’s classy breakaway effort. There’s a buzz around the 24-year-old Lille forward, and a lot of talk about potential transfers for him.

Will that goal push Chelsea to consummate their interest in David? Half the world seems to be signing for the west London club, so why not. Canada midfielder Ismael Kone looks like he’ll be on the move soon. France’s Marseille have just agreed a deal in principle with Watford , of England’s second-tier Championship, for him.

Catch a match

(Times ET/UK) Group B – Ecuador vs Jamaica (6pm/11pm); Fox Sports 1, Fubo, Premier Sports 1; Venezuela vs Mexico (9pm/2am); Fox Sports 1, Fubo, Premier Sports 1.

Attack That Shocked France: Diallo, implicated in assault on team-mate, speaks out

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(Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images)

Aminata Diallo and Kheira Hamraoui were friends and team-mates with Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s team. In 2021, they were driving home from a team bonding session when masked men stopped Diallo’s car and attacked Hamraoui with an iron bar. Hamraoui was left with cuts and bruises.

The following November, hours after a Champions League win over Real Madrid that Diallo played in, the midfielder was arrested by police on suspicion of being involved in the assault on Hamraoui. In 2022, Diallo was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy and remanded in prison for four days. Charges were also brought against five men.

The case shocked France and two years on, Diallo, who denies any wrongdoing, is yet to be given a date for a trial. The 29-year-old, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia and needed her bail conditions modified to allow her to leave PSG for the Middle East, has spoken to The Athletic and the BBC at length about the case, calling it “a nightmare” and reiterating her claims of innocence.

It’s an extraordinary interview about an extraordinary incident, involving two footballers who were once so close. Hamraoui’s lawyer was offered the chance to respond to our article but declined.

Euros Zone: Wreck-it Ralf

We’ve been subtly banging the drum about Austria. Austria are tidy. They have something about them. And them topping Group D at the Euros is no mean feat.

It’s largely the doing of Ralf Rangnick, a coach who got mixed reviews at Manchester United but is steeped in Red Bull tactics and has more admirers than detractors. His team ran France close. They were too good for Poland. And yesterday they turned the screw on the Netherlands, dropping the Dutch to third place.

Red Bull football isn’t foolproof but when it works, it’s like a little wrecking ball. France, who finished second behind Austria, welcomed back Mbappe (mask and all) last night but they were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland. They’re in a low gear.

Austria have wings and a bit of sauce to boot. Underestimate them at your peril.

Ridiculous run-up

Robert Lewandowski’s penalty stopped France progressing as Group D winners, but only after he’d missed a feeble first attempt and been rescued by the officials ordering a retake. itvfootball fae05e video to gif converter

The infringement? Goalkeeper Mike Maignan moving marginally off his line too early. Rules are rules but The Athletic’s Colin Millar asked a very good question on Twitter afterwards: given that penalty odds are stacked against a ’keeper, wouldn’t it be fair to outlaw Lewandowski’s trademark stuttering run-up too?

England: A tale of two draws

There’s been a bit of an issue at the Euros with plastic beer glasses being thrown from the stands. Yesterday in Cologne was the first occasion when angry supporters flung them at their own side.

The target was England coach Gareth Southgate and between that and booing at the final whistle, it was plain how the evening had gone for him: another spirit-sucking draw, this time against Slovenia. Southgate, who’s been saying some slightly odd things recently, called the discord around him an “unusual environment”.

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Gokhan Balci/Anadolu via Getty Images

The point meant England won Group C so, in that respect, mission accomplished. The tournament draw’s working out for them too. But they’re not clicking. Southgate tried Conor Gallagher in midfield yesterday but found himself replacing him with Kobie Mainoo at half-time. After a sprightly cameo off the bench from Cole Palmer, the narrative pivots to whether the Chelsea forward can save the day.

It smacks of a team which is struggling to pick itself. And a manager who does not know what his best line-up is. Trouble afoot.

Catch a match

(Times ET/UK) Group E — Ukraine vs Belgium (12pm/5pm); Fox, Fubo, BBC One, live blog; Slovakia vs Romania (12pm/5pm) — Fox Sports 1, Fubo, BBC Two, live blog.

Group F — Georgia vs Portugal (3pm/8pm), Fox, Fubo, ITV1; Czech Republic vs Turkey (3pm/8pm); Fox Sports 1, Fubo, ITV4.

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(Top photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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