ALISTAIR JOHNSTON and Canada’s Copa America adventure came to a halt with a 2-0 loss to Argentina in the semi-final in New Jersey.

The Celtic right-back saw his dreams of a place in the Final against Uruguay in Florida on Sunday scuppered by Lionel Messi and Co – their second defeat to the world champions in the competition.

Johnston was on the receiving end of a 2-0 opening-day loss in their group to the South Americans and the scoreline was repeated again at the MetLife Stadium.

World superstar Messi and Julian Alvarez struck the goals that ko’d the Canadians who had made history by reaching the last four following a dramatic penalty-kick shoot-out with Venezuela.

ON THE BALL…Alistair Johnston takes care of business as Argentina turn on the pressure in the Copa America semi-final.

A realistic Johnston said: “We can’t be too frustrated with the gap. It’s the best team in the world. It’s been producing players who have gone down in the pantheon of greatest of all time for a century now.

“So, you can’t say that you’re surprised by the gap. It is frustrating because now we’re at that level where we can compete with these teams.

“And again, we create chances. And I think that the most frustrating part is that if you get one of those in the first-half, maybe it’s a different game.

“And it’s a very similar script to the first time we played them. They kind of score one and then they didn’t create too much in the first-half and then we had a couple of big chances.

“Then they score that one and then again, just a little lapse in concentration in the second-half and they get an easy one and the game’s really out of reach.

“And even then, we still had chances, but you can tell they were they were a lot more comfortable in their situation.”

The 26-year-old Hoops defender, speaking to TSN, added: “So, it’s frustrating in that aspect because we are getting so much closer. And, again, our rise has been rapid over these past couple of years.

HISTORY-MAKERS…Alistair Johnston and his Canadian team-mates line-up before beating Venezuela in the quarter-final.

“And to think that you are even mad that we’re getting knocked out in the Copa America semi-final by Argentina, but, at the same time, that’s what you want.

“You want to be frustrated. You want to have a feeling that we were there, not just: ‘We shared the pitch with them.’ We’re not feeling that.

“We’re feeling: ‘I wish we could have a little more there’. So, that’s the frustrating part for me.”

Johnston is the last of the champions’ players involved in competitions this summer to get a break before recharging for the forthcoming campaign.

Cameron Carter-Vickers’ America were knocked out earlier while Euro 24 ended for Callum McGregor, Anthony Ralston, James Forrest and Greg Taylor at the end of the group stages.

Scotland kicked off with a 5-1 loss to hosts Germany on Friday June 14, followed up with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland and exited with a 1-0 defeat to Hungary nine days after the opening-day of the tournament.

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