Argentina defeated Brazilian defending champions 1-0 in the Copa America final on Saturday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and six-time Golden Ball Lionel Messi won his first international trophy, ending the a 28-year famine in his country.
Carried in triumph by his teammates after the final whistle, Messi, 34, finished top scorer and passer in the tournament (4 goals and 5 assists).
But the hero of the final is called Angel Di Maria: the Paris SG player scored the Argentinian victory goal with a splendid lob after a bright opening from Rodrigo De Paul, also excellent at the Maracana.
Neymar, he did not know how to influence the match and burst into tears after the final whistle, before being comforted by a hug from Messi, his former teammate at FC Barcelona.
For Brazil, we are far from the trauma of the Maracanazo of 1950 against Uruguay or the humiliation of the 7-1 inflicted by Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup, but it remains a cruel disillusion for the supporters. of the title, who had triumphed in the other five editions of the Copa played at home.
Tite’s men were unbeaten in official matches since the 2018 World Cup quarter-final against Belgium (1-2).
They had beaten their great Argentinian rivals in their last two encounters in the Copa América final (2004, 2007) and in the semi-final of the last edition, in 2019.
Argentina, who had not won a trophy since the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador, joined Uruguay at the top of the competition, with 15 trophies, keeping the Brazilians at bay (9).
For this gala match, the city hall of Rio had allowed the presence of a few thousand supporters, with a gauge of 10% at the Maracana for the climax of a competition in which all the previous matches had been played behind closed doors in due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has killed more than 530,000 people in Brazil.
Come especially to Rio for the final, the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino was also of the party.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni had decided to field a resolutely offensive team, with Di Maria, replacing in the last three matches, alongside Messi and Lautaro Martinez in attack.
Like any “superclassico” between the two sacred monsters of South American football, the tension was palpable from the kick-off.
The Seleçao began to impose a big pressing, with an aggressiveness quickly sanctioned by a yellow card for Fred from the third minute of play.
Neymar also wanted to immediately mark his territory, with a sombrero hit on his former PSG teammate Lo Celso at the center line (7th).
But after a choppy start to the match, with a large number of faults on both sides, the lightning came from Di Maria.
Well launched by De Paul on the right at the limit of offside, the Parisian winger took Renan Lodi speed before deceiving the goalkeeper Ederson with a beautiful lob (22nd).
This goal stunned Brazil somewhat and the Argentine waves continued to surge, with strikes from Di Maria (28th) and Messi (30th).
Tite tried everything for the whole by bringing in an additional striker at half-time, Firmino, in place of Fred and the Seleçao regained momentum.
Richarlison was refused a goal for offside (52nd) and ran into goalkeeper Martinez (53rd) after a nice opening from Neymar in the box.