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Lionel Messi, Argentina Win Copa America Over Brazil

Rio De Janeiro: Argentina won their first major title in 28 years 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.

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

The Argentine players surrounded their captain at the final whistle.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez celebrated what he called a Maracanazo, a remarkable win at the famous Rio stadium.

Messi finished as the tournament’s joint top goal scorer with four goals and was elected joint best player along with Neymar. But Messi was quiet throughout Saturday’s contest 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 victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph, and it means they draw level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.

Argentina’s win extended their sequence of undefeated matches to 20 under Lionel Scaloni and handed Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup.