Messi Wins Copa América’s First Champion With Argentina Against Brazil


Lionel Messi He finally ticked the last empty box in his brilliant football career on Saturday night, beating Argentina 1-0 over hosts Brazil in the Copa América final in Rio de Janeiro.

The Cup came after Messi’s series of painful, agonizing, maddening failures at the same stadium in 2014, at Rio’s lumbering Maracanã, including perhaps the most depressing defeat of his career against Germany in the World Cup final. It was his first match in Argentina.

When he whistled to finish the final, Messi – with palpable relief – fell to his knees and was immediately surrounded by his teammates. Minutes later, they were lifting him over their shoulders and throwing him into the air.

According to the Associated Press, Messi said after the celebrations in the locker room, “I had to get over the thorns of achieving something with the national team.” “I had been close in other years and I knew this would happen. I am grateful to God for giving me this moment against Brazil and in Brazil. I was keeping this moment to myself.”

In more than a decade at the peak of his sport, 34-year-old Messi had won almost every football honor imaginable with Spanish club team Barcelona: every award, every accolade, every trophy, championship and trophy.

And after years of pain he hadn’t won anything with Argentina.

until Saturday.

His friend Ángel Di María eventually surrendered the prize and put Argentina ahead in the 22nd minute after he calmly received a long diagonal pass to the right from deep lying midfielder Rodrigo De Paul. Di María, who was in control of the ball when he bounced off the ball with a single deft touch with his left foot after passing Brazilian left-back Renan Lodi, then settled down and sent a – raising the ball with the same foot on the next rebound – into the air. Brazil’s goalkeeper Ederson landed softly behind Brazil’s net.

The Brazilians stood up in surprise as Messi and the rest of the Argentina team raced to celebrate with Di María. The goal was only the third they allowed in the tournament.

Messi carried Argentina in Brazil last month while chasing the kind of trophy he’s long coveted. He has led Copa América to score four goals and five assists this summer, but he has done so before and then lagged behind the eventual victory.

Repeated failures at the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa América final in 2015 and again in 2016 have resulted in Messi’s retirement from the national team at least twice. But both times he had given up and returned to chase his first senior title. This month, the Argentine players made it their mission to deliver it.

“Messi is one step ahead of all of us,” said De Paul before the semi-finals. “We’re all on the same path. The important thing is to win.”

“We gave it to Messi who deserved it the most,” said Emiliano Martínez, Argentina’s goalkeeper.

Saturday’s match was the feisty and fiery affair everyone expected from South America’s two greatest powers; A six-inch piece of Brazilian star Neymar’s shorts ripped in the first half, and Messi came into the game at one point with a rare scissors side kick.

Chasing the match, Brazil sent off a wave of attack after the half-time: Roberto Firmino came in at halftime and was then followed by Vinicius Júnior and Gabriel Barbosa as Brazil pushed for a draw goal.

Richarlison thought he had evened the score when he ran home on a low shot from Lucas Paquetá in the 52nd minute. However, replays showed he broke a second early and the goal was voided due to offside.

Two minutes later, he was inside again, this time, but his shot… stopped at close range and was pushed aside by Martínez.

Chances continued to come on both sides – even Messi blew a surprising one-on-one at the end of the game in the end of the match – but as the minutes passed and the interceptions got harder, the pleas for dives and foul calls became more emphatic, the score remained unchanged.

Messi finally became champion in Argentina’s blue-and-whites.


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