Argentina 1-0 Brazil: Di Maria scores winner as Lionel Messi wins his first major title - Copa America
|Lionel Messi lifts his first major international trophy after Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 to win the Copa America final. (Photo credit: @CopaAmerica via Twitter)|
Argentina defeated Brazil in the Copa America final in Rio's Maracana stadium, ending Lionel Messi's wait for his first major international title.
At the full-time whistle, Messi, 34, fell to the ground in excitement and was quickly swarmed by his teammates before being thrown in the air in celebration, as he finally achieved top-level honours with his country in his 10th major tournament.
He also helped Argentina win the competition for the first time in 28 years, and he was awarded player of the tournament after scoring four goals in the competition.
After controlling Rodrigo de Paul's lofted pass, Angel di Maria proved the matchwinner with a beautiful lob.
Messi had a chance to seal the victory with a goal at his mercy, but he slipped with the game on the line. It would have been the perfect ending for the Argentine captain.
Brazil, the defending champions, were lacklustre, with their only notable chances coming when Richarlison and Gabriel Barbosa forced Emi Martinez into saves.
Messi's opposing number 10 and former Barcelona teammate Neymar went to his knees in tears at the final whistle, as he continues his own personal pursuit of international triumph after missing Brazil's 2019 Copa win due to injury.
While waiting for the trophy ceremony, the pair, who played together at the Nou Camp between 2013 and 2017 before the Brazilian's departure to Paris St-Germain, hugged in a long-lasting embrace.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the game was only watched by a small crowd of 7,000 invited fans, although it was the first time spectators were allowed in the stands in the tournament.
The tiny home crowd made their presence felt by booing and jeering Messi whenever he touched the ball.
The competition, which was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and had been transferred from initial co-hosts Colombia and Argentina, was shifted to 2019 hosts Brazil in a last-minute decision that drew criticism due to an increase in coronavirus infections in the country.