© Reuters. Football Football – Copa America 2021 – Final – Brazil v Argentina – Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – July 10, 2021 Argentina By Angel Di Maria in action REUTERS / Amanda Perobelli
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) -Argentina won its first major title in 28 years on Saturday and Lionel Messi finally won his first medal in a blue and white shirt when an Angel Di Maria goal gave him a victory 1-0 over Brazil and a record of 15th Cup America.
Di Maria, leaving only for the second time in the Cup, justified his selection by scoring the opening goal in the middle of the first half.
Renan Lodi failed to cut a long ball forward from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria threw Ederson blocked with aplomb.
Brazil accumulated pressure in an exciting second half but even with five strikers on the field they were unable to get an equalizer against an Argentine defense backed by the extraordinary Rodrigo De Paul.
“First we need to congratulate our opponents especially for the first half when they have neutralized us,” said Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.
“In the second half there was no competition – only one team tried to play football, the other just lost time as we knew they had. It’s not an excuse, we didn’t do what we did. we had it, especially in the first half. ”
Argentina’s victory was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Messi, who took his first title in a blue and white shirt after more than a decade at club and individual level.
The Argentine players circled their captain at the final whistle. Goalkeeper Emilian Martinez celebrated what he called Maracanazo, a remarkable victory at Rio’s famous stadium.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “I knew that my dream would come true, and where it is better than the Maracanazo and give the title to the best in the world and realize their dream.”
Messi finished the first joint scorer of the tournament with four goals and was elected the best joint player with Neymar.
But it was quiet throughout the game at the Maracana Stadium and he didn’t even have a golden opportunity to finish the game with two minutes left.
When the final whistle was blown, Argentina TV declared “Champion of Argentina, Champion of Lionel Messi!”
The match itself was disappointing, with Argentina the better side in a greedy first half that featured 21 fouls.
However, Brazil came out more aggressively in the second period and as time went on, they threw more people forward – and at one point had five recognized strikers on the field.
Richarlison had a deflected goal offside seven minutes into the second half and then forced Emiliano Martinez to a good stop two minutes later.
But while Brazil poured space forward, they opened up and Argentina missed two clear chances to score in the dying moments of the match.
The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph and means they look at Uruguay’s level as the all-time winners.
“It’s a very big title,” said Lionel Scaloni, Argentina’s coach. “I hope the Argentines can enjoy this. The fans love the team unconditionally and I think they identify with this side that never leaves the guard.”
Their victory widened their winning streak to 20 under Scaloni and gave Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
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