Owing to a goal from Angel Di Maria against Brazil in the final, Lionel Messi was finally able to win his first international trophy after an agonizingly long wait. Argentina’s 28-year drought for a major title came to an end with the triumph at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, ending Brazil’s 2,500-day unbeaten home record.
Argentina last won a major event in 1993, when Gabriel Batistuta’s brace in the Copa final in Ecuador earned them a 2-1 victory over Mexico. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said, “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”.
While Messi’s quest is over, Brazil’s Neymar, who is five years his junior, is still without a major international championship after missing the Selecao’s victory on home soil two years ago due to injury. Argentina won a tense and tense match owing to Di Maria’s goal in the 22nd minute. With a first-time finish, the 33-year-old winger sprinted onto Rodrigo De Paul’s beautiful through ball and lobbed Brazil goalkeeper Ederson.
Di Maria said, “We fell short, so many times, we dreamt so much about this, fought so hard. Many people said we wouldn’t manage it; we were criticized a lot. But we kept knocking at the door and kept going until today we knocked it down and entered.”
Brazil’s starting lineup remained unchanged from their semi-final victory over Peru, while Scaloni made five changes. Di Maria’s substitution was remarkable since he came off the bench against Colombia and made an energetic and decisive impact.
Brazil struggled to create anything noteworthy, and even when they were awarded a free-kick from the shooting range, Neymar was unable to beat the wall. Everton’s deflected strike bobbled through to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez late in the first half, as the hosts finally maintained some pressure.
Messi had a golden opportunity to seal the victory two minutes from time, but he stumbled as he was clear through with just Ederson to beat. It didn’t matter, though, because the thin lead was sufficient for them.