By Yusuf Adua
Angel Di Maria provided what Argentina and Lionel Messi needed to be crowned Copa America champions as he drove the Albiceleste to glory to complement their veteran captain’s effort.
Argentina had to slog it out with Brazil; obviously the favourite but the PSG forward delivered the vital goal at the 22nd minute which came out to be the only of the match.
The title triumph means that Lionel Messi finally banished the memories of years of international despair as his Argentina team downed Brazil 1-0 to take the Copa America title in the Selecao’s backyard.
And having played every single minute of the tournament, driving his bruised body to new limits amid the flying tackles of South America’s fearsome defenders, there is now no doubt that this Copa, from start to finish, belonged to the 34-year-old wizard – who was just seven when, in 1993, the Albiceleste the last expertd success at the continental competition.
The clash of the titans disappointed anyone expecting a festival of flowing football between these two giants. Argentina and Brazil went toe-to-toe in a brutal first half, with play barely developing amid a torrent of fouls from both sides.
It took one spectacular move from the visitors, an oasis in this football desert, to break the deadlock. Rodrigo De Paul let loose with a perfectly weighted lofted pass from inside his own half which just eluded Renan Lodi, amongst the Selecao’s weakest links, to release surprise starting inclusion Angel Di Maria.
The Paris Saint-Germain star has featured more from the bench in this Copa, but he was ideally placed to take advantage of the sole clear chance of the first half, chipping over the onrushing Ederson and sending the handful of Argentina fans lucky enough to gain access to the final into ecstasy.
The truest truth is that Messi who had few chances to make his mark amid the constant attention of yellow shirts but still posed a constant potential danger every time he touched the ball would-be the nappiest being on that pitch. He would be grateful to Angel Di Maria who delivered the only gong that had eluded the Argentine superstar.
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