Julian Alvarez was on target as Argentina’s bid to win a record 16th Copa America title began with a 2-0 win over Canada.

Defending the crown they secured in 2021, the Albiceleste ultimately edged home comfortably in an entertaining clash at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

City’s all-time record goal-scorer Sergio Aguero placed the Copa America trophy on a pitchside plinth ahead of the match as the USA-hosted tournament launched in front of a 70,564 crowd.

Winning his 32nd cap for the national team, Alvarez started in a star-studded line-up that included skipper Lionel Messi, Liverpool’s Alexis Mac Allister, and Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Neither side could find a breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes, but just four minutes into the second period, Alvarez scored his first international goal for 18 months.

Mac Allister burst onto a through ball in the box and before he clattered into keeper Maxime Crepeau, he managed to prod the ball into the path of Alvarez who tucked the ball home from a tight angle with 49 minutes played.

It was his eighth Argentina goal, and a couple of minutes later he almost had a second as he controlled a headed pass and volleyed a low shot almost in one movement that was tipped around the post by Crepeau.

The Canadians then pressed for an equaliser with a sustained spell of pressure, missing several opportunities to level the scores.

At the other end, Messi missed a couple of golden chances to seal the victory, before Lautaro Martinez replaced Alvarez on 76 minutes.

And it was Martinez who finally got Argentina’s second, racing onto Messi’s clever pass into the box to tuck the ball past Crepeau on 88 minutes and ensure the defending champions began with a win.

Ederson’s Brazil kick-off their Copa America campaign against Cost Rica next  Tuesday, with Argentina in action again 24 hours later against Chile.