Lionel Messi and the whole of Argentina can breathe a sigh of relief as their long wait for a major football trophy is over. La Albiceleste, the Argentine national football team, on 11 July beat arch rivals Brazil by a solitary goal in the final of Copa America 2021 to win the continental title for the first time since 1993.
The victory was sealed courtesy a goal by Angel Di Maria in the 22nd minute of the match. The PSG forward beat the off side trap to receive a long floater from the mid-field on the right flank and then chipped the ball into the net over the Brazilian goal-keeper Ederson.
From that moment onwards, Brazil kept chasing the match but the much needed equaliser never came.
It was a match which was tipped to be a battle between Brazil’s Neymar and Argentina’s Messi but both men failed to have a major impact on the game. Messi showed glimpses of brilliance and came very close to scoring in the later stages of the second half, but failed to get on to the score sheet.
Neymar tried his best, but he was constantly fouled and tackled by the Argentine midfielders and defenders. It was a tough physical battle in the midfield.
Brazil tried hard to secure the equaliser in the second half and Richarlison put the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out as the Everton star was caught off side.
Roberto Firmino’s introduction in the second half gave depth to Brazil’s attack and they created a lot of chances. Gabi had a couple of shots saved as Argentine goal-keeper Martinez was in fine form.
Messi and de Paul, both, had a chance to seal the match late in the second half but Brazil survived and kept fighting.
The final whistle saw Messi fall down on his knees with tears in his eyes as his teammates rushed to him to celebrate a much awaited win.
The match started with an intense battle in the mid-field with both teams looking to dominate possession. Brazil played a high line and looked to press from the start while Argentina were looking counter attack with the speed of Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi.
The win gave Argentina their 15th Copa America title and they are now joint record holders along with Uruguay for the most number of titles won.
Lionel Messi had lost three Copa America finals before this along with the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and the victory finally gives the talismanic footballer his first major trophy with the senior team.
Messi, arguably the best footballer of this generation alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, now has a continental title under his belt just like the Portuguese, who had lifted the Euro 2016 trophy.