Argentina has finally ended their trophy drought in a major international football tournament as they beat host team Brazil 1-0 in the 2021 Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro to secure the title for the first time since 1993. Argentina’s win was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi as he finally lifted his first major trophy for the national team. Follow for more live soccer and football fixtures!
“It’s crazy. I can’t explain how happy I feel,” Messi said. “I’ve been sad many times but I knew it would happen and there’s no better moment. This team deserved it,” he added. Messi finished the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with four goals along with Luis Diaz and was elected joint best player with Neymar. The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph.
Messi, who now a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired earlier this month, now aims to to take their form into next year’s World Cup in Qatar. “When you win, you have to take advantage of that momentum,” he said. “I told them they’re the national team of the future, and I was not wrong. They proved it by winning this Copa.”
Their win extended their unbeaten streak in 20 matches under Lionel Scaloni and handed Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup. “This is a very big title,” said Scaloni. “I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally and I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.”
Meanwhile, the hero of the game was Angel Di Maria, who netted the only goal of the match in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo De Paul made a long pass. Di Maria started for just the second time in the Copa. “I can’t cry, I can’t fall, we dreamed so much of achieving this. So many people said I shouldn’t come back, I kept banging my head against the wall and today it happened,” the veteran winger said.
Brazil coach Tite praised Argentina for the title. “We wanted to play, but there was a lot of anti-soccer. Fouls all the time, it took ages for the match to go on,” Tite said. “There was no pace. Their strategy was that. Argentina is very well placed defensively, has a great goalkeeper, a back four of quality, with good replacements. There’s merits.” It was the first time in six editions playing at home that Brazil had failed to lift the trophy.
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