(Reuters) – The Argentine national team ended 28 years without a title after beating Brazil 1-0 this Saturday, at Maracanã, to be champion of the Copa America 2021, Lionel Messi’s first title for the national team.
The last Argentine title had been the 1993 Copa America.
With Ángel Di María’s goal halfway through the first half, Messi’s generation was finally able to celebrate a trophy for the national team, after runners-up at the Copa América and the 2014 World Cup, and erupted in celebration on the lawn at Maracanã.
Brazil was looking for the bi-championship after taking the 2019 Copa America title, also at home. This year’s competition was repeated in the country at the last minute after Colombia and Argentina withdrew.
The match started with many fouls and rough plays. As early as 3 minutes Fred had already received a yellow card and shortly afterwards Neymar had his shorts torn in one of the entries he suffered.
In the first good opportunity of the game, Argentina opened the scoring. De Paul made a long throw, Renan Lodi failed to cut and Ángel Di María touched it over goalkeeper Ederson, in the 22nd minute.
The Brazilians had difficulties in the first half. They insisted a lot in the middle and stopped in the rival’s strong marking. Neymar and Everton Cebolinha had locked shots, and no clear chance was created.
With Firmino in Fred’s place at half-time, Brazil went on the attack and had a goal by Richarlison canceled out in the 7th minute for offside. Two minutes later, Neymar gave a great pass to Richarlison, who kicked over goalkeeper Martínez.
Brazil pressed for a draw and had a chance with Gabriel Barbosa in the end, but the Argentine goalkeeper defended.
The few Argentines who were at Maracanã celebrated a lot. The stadium received 10% of the audience capacity – around 6,500 fans. All had to present a negative test for Covid-19 before entering the stadium, but “a considerable number of fraudulent PCR tests were identified among those accredited for the sectors in Argentina and Brazil”, stated Conmebol.
The Copa America was originally to be played in 2020, but was postponed by a year due to the pandemic. It would also be played at two venues for the first time in history, in Colombia and Argentina. However, it was withdrawn from Colombia in May due to growing social tension with anti-government protests, while Argentina left the tournament organization because of the pandemic.
Brazil accepted to host the competition a few days before the start, even though it is the country with the second highest number of deaths by Covid-19, over 532 thousand, according to the Ministry of Health. The cities of Brasília, Goiânia, Cuiabá and Rio de Janeiro hosted the matches.
(By Tatiana Ramil)
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