Lionel Messi has finally won his first trophy with the senior men’s Argentina national team as Angel Di Maria’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil in the Copa America final.
The win at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for a major trophy, and Brazil’s unbeaten home record that stretched back more than 2,500 days. It was also Argentina's 15th Copa America title and it puts them on level pegging with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.
This was also the first time in 6 editions that Brazil while playing at home had failed to lift the trophy. Argentina had last tasted success at a major tournament in 1993 when Gabriel Batistuta's led them to a 2-1 win over Mexico in the Copa final.
Interestingly, when Messi had won the Olympic Gold in 2008 with Argentina, it was Angel di Maria who had made the difference in that game too with the winning goal.
After the final whistle, a tearful Messi Messi dropped to the ground in joy and was swiftly mobbed by his team-mates, before being hurled in the air in celebration, as he finally claimed top-level honours with his country in his 10th major tournament.
Argentina’s goal came in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo de Paul made a long pass to Ángel di Maria. The former Real Madrid man took advantage of some sloppy defending from left-back Renan Lodi to take control and lob it past goalkeeper Ederson.
This was only the 3rd goal Brazil conceded in the tournament. Neymar tried hard with dribbles and passes, but the Selecao barely threatened Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Messi’s performance in the final was not as impressive as in previous matches of the tournament, during which he scored four goals and had five assists. He finished as the top goal scorer and was elected as the joint best player along with Neymar.
He had a golden chance to score in the 88th minute, tried to dribble Ederson, but the Brazilian goalkeeper stopped him.
This was the first game of the tournament that had fans in the stadium and was watched by a small crowd of 7,000 invited guests, because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, as Messi won his first international trophy with Argentina, Neymar awaits his after missing out on the 2019 Copa America win due to injury.
With this win Argentina's undefeated streak with Lionel Scaloni as manager stretched to 20 while Brazil and Tite were handed their first competitive defeat since the quarter-final of the 2018 World Cup against Belgium.
(with various inputs)
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