Lionel Messi won his first trophy with his national team as Angel Di Maria‘s goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over hosts Brazil in the Copa America final on Saturday.
The victory at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for a major trophy, and also ended Brazil’s unbeaten home record that stretched back more than 2 500 days.
“It’s a great title, especially for our people. The fans support the team unconditionally. I think they can identify with this team that never gives in,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.
It was the first time in six editions playing at home that Brazil had failed to lift the trophy.
And while 34-year-old Messi’s odyssey has come to an end, Brazil’s Neymar, five years his junior, is still without a major title at international level having missed the Selecao’s win on home soil two years ago through injury.
Di Maria proved the matchwinner with his superb lob, after taking down Rodrigo de Paul‘s lofted pass.
Messi had a chance to sign off the win but slipped with the goal at his mercy, in what would have been the perfect finale for the Argentine captain.
“The happiness is immense,” said Messi after the game as he also praised the attitude of the Argentina squad. “Many times I dreamed of this.
“I had a lot of confidence in this group that became very strong since the last Copa America. It is a group of very good people, who always push forward, who never complain about anything.”
Messi dropped to the ground in joy at the full-time whistle and was swiftly mobbed by his team-mates, before being hurled in the air in celebration, as he finally claimed top-level honours with his country in his 10th major tournament.