Argentina Saturday won the Copa América football tournament by beating hosts and defending champions Brazil 1-0 at the iconic Maracaná Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Ángel DiMaría scored halfway through the opening half.
It was the first major international title for every Argentine player, particularly team captain Lionel Messi after one World Cup final loss to Germany in 2014 at the very same venue. Argentina had last won the Copa America in 1993, by defeating Mexico in the final match played in Ecuador.
In the Messi era, Argentina had reached the final in 2007, 2015 and 2016. Until Saturday, Messi, DiMaría and Sergio Kun Agüero had only won the 2008 Olympic Gold medal with the national squad.
For the first time in history, Brazil fails to lift the trophy of a Copa América played at home, like they did in 1919, 1922, 1949, 1989 and 2019.
After Sunday's final, Argentines poured into the streets of every major city in the country. Many drove around honking their horns but quite a few gathered around Buenos Aires' traditional Obelisco and other squares natiowide, oblivious to any coronavirus protocol or distancing.
Meanwhile, in Uruguay, Argentina's win brought back memories of their own and first-ever “Maracanazo,” when they beat Brazil 2-1 on July 16, 1950, for the World Cup Title at the same stadium. A major Uruguayan sports daily had reported that the local crowds would root for Argentina, even if it meant that now both teams have won 15 Copa América titles each, against Brazil's 9.
It was also a symbolic defeat to Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who had forecast a 5-0 victory for his country during the last Mercosur Presidential Summit on Thursday.
But it was also a victory for him, for having agreed to host a competition which was originally scheduled to take place in both Colombia and Argentina. Colombia was first ruled out due to political unrest and then Argentina withdrew as a consequence of the rise in covid-19 cases.
“I want to congratulate and hug our immense team for taking the country to the top. The Argentine people will always remember that, in times of pain, they sowed hope and gave us enormous joy,” Argentine President Alberto Fernández posted on Twitter.
Brazil had won the two previous Copa América title deciders against Argentina: on penalties (4-2) in 2004 in Peru after a 2-2 draw and 3-0 in Venezuela in 2007, with a young Messi as a starter.