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Lionel Messi wins first Copa America as Argentina beat Brazil in final

Messi is thrown in the air by his team-mates at full-time
Messi was thrown in the air by his team-mates at full-time

Lionel Messi ended his wait for a first major international title as Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final in Rio’s Maracana stadium.

Messi, 34, 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.

He also helped end Argentina’s 28-year spell since they last won the competition.

Angel 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.

Defending champions Brazil were disappointing, with their only chances of note coming when Richarlison and Gabriel Barbosa forced saves from Emi Martinez.

In a contrast of emotions, Messi’s opposite number 10 and former Barcelona team-mate Neymar sank to his knees in tears at the final whistle, as his own personal pursuit of international success continues, having missed Brazil’s 2019 Copa win through injury.

Neymar reacts after Brazil lose to Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final
Neymar reacts after Brazil lose to Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final

The pair, who played together at the Nou Camp between 2013 and 2017 before the Brazilian’s move to Paris St-Germain, embraced in a long-lasting hug while they waited for the trophy ceremony.

The game was watched by a small crowd of 7,000 invited guests, because of Covid-19 restrictions, but was the first of the tournament to have spectators in attendance.

The sparse home supporters made their voices heard, though, particularly every time Messi touched the ball, booing and jeering the forward.

The tournament, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic and moved from initial co-hosts Colombia and Argentina, was switched to 2019 hosts Brazil in a last-minute decision which received criticism in light of a surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

More to follow.

Country Played Won Lost Minutes Goals Stage
2006 3 2 0 121 1 QF
2010 5 4 1 450 0 QF
2014 7 5 1 693 4 RU
2018 4 1 2 360 1 L16
TOTALS 19 12 4 1624 6
Figures provided by Stats Perform
Country Played Won Lost Minutes Goals Stage
2007 6 5 1 456 2 RU
2011 4 1 0 390 0 QF
2015 6 3 0 570 1 RU
2016 5 4 0 374 5 RU
2019 6 3 2 487 1 SF
2021 6 4 0 540 4
TOTALS 33 20 3 2817 13
Figures provided by Stats Perform

Line-ups

Argentina

Formation 4-4-2

  • 23Martínez
  • 4MontielBooked at 89mins
  • 13RomeroSubstituted forPezzellaat 79′minutes
  • 19OtamendiBooked at 81mins
  • 8Acuña
  • 11Di MaríaSubstituted forPalaciosat 79′minutes
  • 7de PaulBooked at 68mins
  • 5ParedesBooked at 33minsSubstituted forRodríguezat 54′minutes
  • 20Lo CelsoBooked at 51minsSubstituted forTagliaficoat 63′minutes
  • 10Messi
  • 22MartínezSubstituted forGonzálezat 79′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Armani
  • 3Tagliafico
  • 6Pezzella
  • 9Agüero
  • 12Marchesín
  • 14Palacios
  • 15González
  • 18Rodríguez
  • 21Correa
  • 24Gómez
  • 25Martínez
  • 26Molina

Brazil

Formation 4-3-3

  • 23Ederson
  • 2Danilo
  • 4MarquinhosBooked at 82mins
  • 3Thiago Silva
  • 16Lodi dos SantosBooked at 70minsSubstituted forLeite de Souza Juniorat 76′minutes
  • 17Tolentino Coelho de LimaBooked at 72minsSubstituted forBarbosa Almeidaat 76′minutes
  • 5Casemiro
  • 8FredBooked at 3minsSubstituted forFirminoat 45′minutes
  • 19Sousa SoaresSubstituted forVinícius Júniorat 63′minutes
  • 10Neymar
  • 7Richarlison

Substitutes

  • 1Alisson
  • 6Lobo Silva
  • 11de Barros Ribeiro
  • 12Pereira da Silva
  • 13Leite de Souza Junior
  • 14Militão
  • 15Fabinho
  • 18Vinícius Júnior
  • 20Firmino
  • 21Barbosa Almeida
  • 22Rech Ortiz
  • 25Douglas Luiz

Referee:
Esteban Ostojich

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Argentina 1, Brazil 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Argentina 1, Brazil 0.

  3. Foul by Casemiro (Brazil).

  4. Marcos Acuña (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Attempt saved. Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  6. Hand ball by Roberto Firmino (Brazil).

  7. Gonzalo Montiel (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Guido Rodríguez.

  9. Attempt blocked. Gabi (Brazil) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  10. Vinícius Júnior (Brazil) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Foul by Gonzalo Montiel (Argentina).

  12. Attempt missed. Thiago Silva (Brazil) header from the centre of the box misses to the left following a corner.

  13. Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Nicolás Otamendi.

  14. Hand ball by Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina).

  15. Attempt missed. Danilo (Brazil) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.

  16. Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Germán Pezzella.

  17. Attempt blocked. Gabi (Brazil) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Vinícius Júnior.

  18. Marquinhos (Brazil) is shown the yellow card.

  19. Nicolás Otamendi (Argentina) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Neymar (Brazil) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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