After losing four Copa America finals since their last triumph in South America’s showpiece tournament – including three finals involving Messi – Argentina were finally crowned continental champions as Angel Di Maria’s wonderful first-half lob was enough to give them a 1-0 victory over Brazil at the Maracana.
Argentina captain Messi had a quiet game by his lofty standards and missed a late chance to wrap up the game, but dropped to his knees on the final whistle before being smothered by his teammates.
The title is Argentina’s first since their Copa America triumph in 1993 and their 15th Copa America in total – a joint record with Uruguay.
La Abliceleste lost back-to-back finals against Chile on penalties in 2015 and 2016 as well as suffering defeats against Brazil in 2004 and 2007, but now finally have their hands on the famous old trophy again.
Argentina’s title in front of empty stands at the Maracana caps a controversial tournament which was moved to Brazil after initial co-hosts Argentina and Colombia were stripped of the hosting rights due to the Covid-19 situation and political unrest respectively.
Brazil was a contentious choice considering the nation’s own coronavirus and political turmoil, but the event went ahead despite widespread protest and reported doubts among the Brazilian players themselves.
The hosts were ultimately unable to defend their title, despite piling on the pressure in the second half and ending with five strikers on the pitch.