Messi Does It At Last

Lionel Messi kisses the COPA America trophy after finally winning an international trophy with Argentina

Argentina won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday when an Angel Di Maria goal gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil and a record-equalling 15th Copa America crown.

Argentina’s victory was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who picked up his first title in a blue-and-white shirt after more than a decade of club and individual honours.

Di Maria started for just the second time in the Copa, and he justified his selection by scoring the opener midway through the first half.

Renan Lodi failed to cut out a long ball forward from Rodrigo De Paul, and Di Maria lobbed the stranded Ederson with aplomb.

Brazil piled on the pressure in an exciting second half, but even with five strikers on the field, they could not get an equaliser against an Argentine defence protected by the outstanding De Paul.

“I can’t cry yet,” Di Maria said after the match. “We dreamed of getting this, and we fought. Many people criticised us and asked us not to come back [to the national team].”

The match itself was a disappointing one, with Argentina the better side in a cagey first half that featured 21 fouls.

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

“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.”

The Argentine players surrounded their captain at the final whistle.

Argentina TV declared, “Argentina Champions, Lionel Messi Champion!”