Argentina won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday when an Angel Di Maria goal gave them a 1-0 convert Brazil and a record-equalling 15th Copa America crown. Argentina’s victory was a specific triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who picked up his first title during a blue-and-white shirt after quite a decade of the club and individual honors. Di Maria started for just the second time within the Copa, and he justified his selection by scoring the opener midway through the primary half.
Renan Lodi did not cut out an extended ball forward from Rodrigo De Paul, and Di Maria lobbed the stranded Ederson with aplomb. Brazil piled on the pressure in an exciting last half, but even with five strikers on the sector, they might not get an equaliser against an Argentine defence protected by the outstanding De Paul. “I can’t cry yet,” Di Maria said after the match. “We dreamed of getting this, and that we fought. many of us criticized us and asked us to not come [to the national team].”
The match itself was a disappointing one, with Argentina the higher side during a cagey half that featured 21 fouls. “First, we’ve to congratulate our opponents, especially for the primary half, once they neutralised us,” Brazilian defender Thiago Silva said. “In the last half, there was no contest — just one team tried to play football; the opposite just wasted time, as we knew they might. it isn’t an excuse; we didn’t do what we had to, principally within the half .” The Argentine players surrounded their captain at the ultimate whistle. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez celebrated what he called a Maracanazo, an interesting wine at the famous Rio stadium.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “I knew my dream would come true, and where better than the Maracanazo and giving the title to the simplest within the world and fulfilling his dream.” Messi finished because the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint-best player alongside Neymar. But Messi was quiet throughout Saturday’s contest and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the sport up with two minutes remaining. When the ultimate whistle went, Argentina TV declared, “Argentina Champions, Lionel Messi Champion!”
“This may be a very big title,” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said. “I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally, and that I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.” The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph, and it means they draw level with Uruguay because of the all-time leading winners. Argentina’s win extended their sequence of undefeated matches to twenty under Lionel Scaloni and handed Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium within the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup.