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Copa America: Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 to win 1st major title in 28 yrs

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Argentina won their first major trophy in 28 years on Saturday, and Lionel Messi received his first medal in a blue-and-white shirt when Angel Di Maria’s goal earned them a 1-0 triumph over Brazil and a record-tying 15th Copa America.

Di Maria, who was making his Copa debut, justified his selection by scoring the game’s first goal midway through the first half.

Renan Lodi was unable to cut out Rodrigo De Paul’s long pass forward, and Di Maria lobbed the stranded Ederson with ease.

In a thrilling second half, Brazil heaped on the pressure, but despite fielding five strikers, they were unable to equalize against an Argentine defense commanded by Rodrigo De Paul.

“First we have to congratulate our opponents especially for the first half when they neutralised us,” said Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.

“In the second half there was no contest – only one team tried to play football, the other just wasted time as we knew they would. It’s not an excuse, we didn’t do what we had to, principally in the first half.”

Argentina’s victory was especially sweet for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who won his first trophy in a blue-and-white shirt after a decade of the club and individual glory.

At the final whistle, the Argentine players gathered their captain. Emilian Martinez, the goalkeeper, termed it a Maracanazo, a spectacular victory at the legendary Rio stadium.

“I’m speechless,” he said. “I knew my dream would come true, and where better than the Maracanazo and giving the title to the best in the world and fulfilling his dream.”

Messi finished the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint-best player along with Neymar.

But he was quiet throughout the game at the Maracana stadium and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up with two minutes remaining.

When the final whistle went, Argentina TV declared “Argentina Champions, Lionel Messi Champion!”

The contest itself was a letdown, with Argentina coming out on top in a tense first half that saw 21 fouls.

Brazil, on the other hand, came out more aggressively in the second half, and as the game progressed, they threw more individuals forward, with five recognized strikers on the field at one point.

Richarlison had a goal disallowed for offside seven minutes into the second half, but two minutes later forced Emiliano Martinez into a fine save.

But as Brazil poured forward gaps, opened up and Argentina missed two clear chances to score in the dying moments of the match.

The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph and means they draw level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.

“This is a very big title,” said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni. “I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally and I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.”

Their triumph extended their unbeaten streak to 20 games under Scaloni, and it was Brazil’s first competitive loss since losing to Belgium in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals.

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