Argentina pip Brazil to win Copa America as Messi lands first international trophy
ARGENTINA won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday night/Sunday morning with Angel Di Maria scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil in the Copa America final at the Maracana Stadium.
It is a record-equalling 15th Copa America title for Argentina and the first senior international trophy for their captain and talisman, Lionel Messi.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Di Maria was making his second start of the tournament and he justified his place in the XI by scoring midway through the first half.
Brazil left-back Renan Lodi failed to stop a brilliant long ball from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria impudently dinked the ball over the stranded Ederson in the hosts’ goal.
Argentina took their slim advantage to half-time but Brazil ramped up the pressure in a chaotic second half.
At one point they had five strikers on the field but they could not get an equaliser against the Argentine defence which was screened by the outstanding Udinese midfielder De Paul.
Messi not only ended his long wait for his first national team title at senior level, he also finished the tournament as joint-top scorer with four goals and was named joint-best player along with Brazil’s Neymar.
The Barcelona superstar had an unusually quiet game and even missed a golden opportunity late on to wrap the game up with the second goal.
The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America title, taking them level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.
The win also stretched Argentina’s unbeaten run to 20 games under manager Lionel Scaloni.
It was Brazil’s first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.