Argentina (ARG) ended a long wait for a trophy as Angel Di Maria’s first-half goal helped them overcome arch-rivals Brazil (BRA) 1-0 in the Copa America 2021 final. It was Argentina’s first title since winning the 1993 edition of the continental competition.
Brazil head coach Tite named the same playing eleven that beat Peru in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Argentina made three changes in the backline as Gonzalo Montiel, Cristian Romero, and Marcos Acuna replaced Nahuel Molina, German Pezzella, and Nicolas Tagliafico. PSG duo Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes returned to the squad in place of Nicolas Gonzalez and Guido Rodriguez.
The opening few minutes of the match witnessed a barrage of fouls. Brazil midfielder Fred received a booking for a foul on Montiel, and players from both sides went tumbling inside the Argentina half. Richarlison almost set up the opening goal for Neymar in the 13th minute. He headed down a Marquinhos’ pass at the feet of the PSG forward, but Montiel was at the right place to block Neymar’s attempt.
A defensive lapse by Renan Lodi helped Argentina take the lead in the 22nd minute. The left-back missed a well-measured long pass from Rodrigo De Paul, and Di Maria pounced on it, lobbing the ball over Ederson and finding the back of the net. It was a sublime finish from the midfielder, who also registered his first goal of the Copa America 2021. After the half-hour mark, Lionel Messi saw his strike from outside the box go wide of the target.
Brazil, who could create only half-chances in the opening 45 minutes, brought on Roberto Firmino for Fred after the break. Richarlison had a goal chalked off for offside early in the second half. In the 54th minute, Emiliano Martinez pulled off an excellent save to deny the Everton forward. The hosts began to show their frustration, and Lodi and Lucas Paqueta received a yellow card in the space of two minutes.
Tite introduced Vinicius Junior and Gabriel Barbosa as the defending champions pushed for the equalizer. With three minutes left on the clock, Barbosa had his attempt tipped over the bar by the Argentine custodian. Messi, at the other end, missed a sitter from six yards after he lost his footing. Argentina ran the clock down, much to the frustration of Brazil players. As the referee blew the final whistle, Argentine players rushed to Messi to celebrate a record-equalling 15th Copa America title.
Goalscorers: ARG – A Di Maria; BRA – none
Assists: ARG – R De Paul; BRA – none
Top Five Fantasy Points scorers: A Di Maria (14 pts), G Montiel (9 pts), R De Paul (10 pts), C Gabriel Romero (8.5 pts) N Otamendi (8 pts)
Parameswaran Sankaranarayan is a sports enthusiast who has worked in print, website, and other digital platforms. He was part of the editorial team of first-ever Indian football-based website - IndianFootball.com (now defunct) - and passionately follows the latest happenings in world football. During his time as a journalist, he had the opportunity to interact with some of the iconic personalities in Indian sports and witness some memorable moments in Indian football.
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