Messi was thrown in the air full-time by his teammates
Lionel Messi ended his wait for a first major international title when Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final at Rio’s Maracana Stadium.
Messi, 34, fell to the ground with delight at the whistle and was quickly bullied by his teammates before being thrown into the air in celebration as he finally competed with his country in his 10th tournament.
He also helped end Argentina’s 28-year tenure since last winning the competition and was named Player of the Tournament after scoring four goals in the competition.
Angel di Maria turned out to be the match winner with his great praise after beating Rodrigo de Paul’s Loft Pass.
Messi had a chance to sign the win but slipped on the goal, which would have been the perfect final for the Argentine captain.
“The joy is immense,” said Messi after the game, also praising the attitude of the Argentine squad. “I’ve often dreamed of that.
“I had great faith in this group that has become very strong since the last Copa America. It’s a group of very good people who always push forward and never complain about anything.”
Defending champions Brazil were disappointing as their only chances of finding a common denominator came when Richarlison and Gabriel Barbosa parried Emi Martinez.
In a contrast of emotions, Messi’s number 10 opponent and former Barcelona team-mate Neymar dropped to their knees crying at the final whistle as his personal pursuit of international success continues after missing Brazil’s 2019 Copa win due to injury.
Neymar reacts after Brazil lost to Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final
The couple, who played together at Nou Camp between 2013 and 2017 before the Brazilian moved to Paris St-Germain, hugged each other in a long-lasting hug as they waited for the trophy ceremony.
“If you only knew how him [Messi] played at the Copa America, you would love him even more, “said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.
“You can never do without a player like him, even if he is not as fit as in this and the previous game.”
The game was watched by a small crowd of 7,000 invited guests due to Covid-19 restrictions, but it was the first of the tournament to be attended by spectators.
The scanty home fans made their voices heard, however, especially every time Messi touched the ball and booed and taunted the striker.
Postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled by first co-hosts Colombia and Argentina, the tournament was moved to Brazil in a last-minute decision criticized amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the country has been.
Messi is finally shining on the international stage
The overwhelming full-time Argentine celebrations, with Messi at the center, demonstrated that this team’s triumph over their old rival was important to both the iconic striker and the nation.
It’s been 15 years since Messi first represented Argentina in a major tournament and after four World Cups and six Copa America appearances in 53 games, he finally has the big international title he and his country have been longing for.
Although he is one of the best decorated and most brilliant players of modern times – and arguably of all time – with 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and six Ballons d’Or, he has questions about his lack of influence on the international stage in the legacy space .
|Numbers from Stats Perform|
And while many will say his greatness has been cemented, this long wait for a first A trophy with his country will go a long way in silencing all doubters, regardless of what he’s accomplished with Argentina.
Repeated failures with Argentina have been a pain for the striker, who went so far as to announce his resignation – before later reversing the decision – after losing the second straight Copa America final in 2016, his third loss in the final of the Competition and came only two years after losing in the 2014 World Cup final.
“In the end he did [Messi] didn’t throw in the towel and he succeeded, “said Scaloni.
“We’re talking about the best footballer of all time and everyone knew how important it was for him to win a title with the national team.”
Messi wasn’t explosive against Brazil, with few opportunities to get the ball after Argentina proved defensive in a game disrupted by 41 fouls when he took the lead, but he carried the ball well, especially in the final stages to relieve the pressure.
|Numbers from Stats Perform|
Questions about his immediate future now continue to be asked, with Messi now a free agent after his Barcelona deal ended two weeks ago – though Barca have stepped up their attempts to hold her star man while the negotiations go on.
The prospect also remains that Messi will have what is likely to be his last chance to claim the world title – something Argentina hasn’t done since 1986 – should he lead his country in Qatar in December 2022 at the age of 35.
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- 4thMontielBooked at 89 minutes
- 13thRomeroReplaced byPezzellaat the 79 ‘protocol
- 19thOtamendiBooked at 81 minutes
- 11Tell maryReplaced byPalaciosat the 79 ‘protocol
- 7thfrom PaulBooked at 68 minutes
- 5wallsBooked at 33 minutesReplaced byRodriguezat the 54 ‘protocol
- 20thThe CelsoBooked at 51 minutesReplaced byTagliaficoat the 63 ‘protocol
- 22ndMartinezReplaced byGonzalezat the 79 ‘protocol
2Danilo4thBrands3rdThiago Silva16Lodi dos Santos
17thTolentino Coelho de Lima5House Miro8thFred
- 4thBrandsBooked at 82 minutes
- 3rdThiago Silva
- 16Lodi dos SantosBooked at 70 minutesReplaced bySouza Junior milkat the 76 ‘protocol
- 17thTolentino Coelho de LimaBooked at 72 minutesReplaced byBarbosa Almeidaat the 76 ‘protocol
- 5House Miro
- 8thFredBooked at 3 minutesReplaced byFirminoat the 45 ‘protocol
- 19thSousa SoaresReplaced byVinicius Juniorat the 63 ‘protocol
- 6thWolf Silva
- 11by Barros Ribeiro
- 12thPereira da Silva
- 13thSouza Junior milk
- 18thVinicius Junior
- 21Barbosa Almeida
- 25thDouglas Luiz
Game ends, Argentina 1, Brazil 0.
Second half ends, Argentina 1, Brazil 0.
Foul by Casemiro (Brazil).
Marcos Acuña (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina) right footed shot from the center of the box is saved in the lower right corner.
Handball by Roberto Firmino (Brazil).
Gonzalo Montiel (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Corner, brazil. Admitted by Guido Rodríguez.
Attempt blocked. Gabi (Brazil) left footed shot from the center of the box is blocked.
Vinícius Júnior (Brazil) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Gonzalo Montiel (Argentina).
Attempt failed. Thiago Silva (Brazil) header from the center of the box but misses to the left following a corner.
Corner, brazil. Admitted by Nicolás Otamendi.
Handball by Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina).
Attempt failed. Danilo (Brazil) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, brazil. Admitted by Germán Pezzella.
Attempt blocked. Gabi (Brazil) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Supported by Vinícius Junior.
Marquinhos (Brazil) is shown the yellow card.
Nicolás Otamendi (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Neymar (Brazil) wins a free kick in the attacking half.