In a hugely anticipated final between two of the world’s great footballing nations, Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 at the Estadio Maracaná to become champions of the CONMEBOL Copa América after 28 years without an international title.
The historic Ángel Di María, with an exquisite finish, scored the only goal of the game following a superb pass from Rodrigo De Paul, one of the stars of the final.From the start, understanably given the magnitude of the occasion, the game was tight and fiesty. A lot of strong tackles, competitive play and few early chances on goal.
Halfway through the first half, with little warning, Argentina struck, finding the net with what proved to be the decisive goal on the night. Rodrigo De Paul launched an inch perfect pass, Di María turned his marker Renan Lodi, and lifted a perfect lobbed volley over Ederson. A great goal to make it 1-0.
Di María once again threatened the Brazilian defence on the 28th minute, cutting inside from the left to strike with Marquinhos blocking the effort.
On 32 minutes it was the turn of Lionel Messi, who had been uncharacteristically quiet in the opening 45, to threaten with a dangerous strike from outside the area.
Brazil, on the other hand, ended the first half with few efforts on Emiliano Martínez’ goal. Everton, Paquetá and Neymar had been kept quiet by the Argentine defence. Tite took his side in the break looking to inspire a revival while Lionel Scaloni had to prepare for a likely second half Brazilian response.
As expected, after the break Brazil emerged with fresh energy and purpose. Richarlison worked some dangerous chances cutting inside from wide areas. The Everton found the net but was denied by a correct offside call from the assistant. Shortly after he was denied once again, this time by a smart save from Martínez.
Gradually Argentina were pushed further back towards their own goal and things were starting to look a little precarious. Roberto Firmino came on for Fred in attack to give Argentina another dangerous, unpredictable forward to contend with.
However, after a worrying start to the half, Argentina began to steady themselves and despite a lot of possession, Brazil were unable to create that decisive opening.
Brazil pushed and substitute Gabriel Barbosa came close but Emiliano Martínez once again kept the ball with an sharp sae.
Late on Argentina looked as though they would add a second on the counter but it wasn’t to be. First Messi slipped and missed a clear chance one on one with the goalkeeper following another excellent De Paul pass. Then the impressive De Paul himself had a huge chance but failed to beat Ederson.
And with that the minutes ticked away and Argentina could celebrate with wild elation.
La Albiceleste were crowned CONMEBOL Copa América champions again after a long 28 year wait and they did it against their great rivals at the legendary Estadio Maracaná.