Lionel Messi’s long wait for an international trophy is finally come to an end, with Argentina defeating their fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final to fill in the biggest gap of his fabled career.
Angel Di Maria, who handed his second starting in the tournament, struck the decisive goal midway through the first-half, latching onto a phenomenal low long pass from the impressive Rodrigo De Paul.
The PSG winger cushioned the ball with a fabulous first touch off the outside of his left foot, before he lobbed the onrushing Ederson with a deft strike.
After a tentative first-half, Brazil coach Tite tried to change the dynamic of the match by replacing defensive midfielder Fred – who was booked in just the third minute of the game – for Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, and it certainly injected some impetus to their play.
Everton talisman Richarlison thought he had equasiled shortly into the second period but his effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
The Selecao piled on the pressure in an exciting second-half, had four more opportunities after Richarlison effort on the field but unable to equaliser against an Argentine defence protected by the outstanding De Paul.
When the match ended, a tearful Messi dropped to his knees was mobbed by his team-mates before heading over to the smattering of his country’s fans in the stadium to lead the celebrations.
Lionel Messi finished the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with four goals and collected his individual honour for player of the tournament before getting his hands on the trophy itself.
But in truth, he was quiet throughout the final and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up with just two minutes remaining.
Victory also snaps Argentina’s 28-year wait for a title, with their previous trophy coming in the 1993 Copa America.
Thiago Silva, on the other hand, handed fair play of the tournament award.
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