Messi claims first international trophy as Argentina win Copa America
Argentina won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday after winning a record-equaling 15th Copa America. Interestingly, star player Lionel Messi clinched his first international trophy, with Argentina claiming a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the grand finale. On the other hand, Brazil suffered their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Angel Di Maria put Argentina in front with a stunning lob to deceive Ederson. Argentina were the better side in the first half that featured as many as 21 fouls. Brazil continued to mount pressure in a rather exciting second half. However, even with five strikers on the field, they could not score an equalizer. The Argentine defence remained spot on.
Messi has finally won a trophy for Argentina 15 years after representing his nation. He achieved the feat after four World Cup and six Copa America appearances, where he played a total of 53 matches. Despite winning 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, and six Ballon d'Or trophies, Messi was unable to claim a title at the national stage, till now.
Messi at World Cup: 2006 (quarter-final), 2010 (quarter-final), 2014 (runners-up), 2018 (last 16). Messi at Copa America: 2007 (runners-up), 2011 (quarter-final), 2015 (runners-up), 2016 (runners-up), 2019 (semi-final), 2021 (winners). He has represented Argentina 19 times at World Cup and 34 times at Copa America.
Argentina have won their 15th Copa America title, now the joint-most with Uruguay. This is Argentina's first major title since they won the South American Championship in 1993. The win in the final extended their streak of undefeated matches to 20 under manager Lionel Scaloni. Meanwhile, Brazil were handed their first defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals of 2018 WC.
Messi finished as the joint-top-scorer of the tournament with four goals. He also registered five assists. He was elected joint-Best Player along with Neymar. The former was also the Golden Boot winner. Emiliano Martinez was adjudged the best goal-keeper, and was presented with the Golden Glove. Di Maria, who scored the all-important winner, was named the Man of the Match in the final.