Soccer-Messi breaks drought, win first major title with Argentina

Soccer Football - Copa America 2021 - Final - Brazil v Argentina - Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - July 10, 2021 Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates winning the Copa America as he kisses the trophy REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Lionel Messi was uncharacteristically quiet in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Brazil on Saturday but his performance was irrelevant compared to what the victory means – a first major title for Messi in the blue and white of the national side.

The Barcelona striker has won the FIFA World Player of the Year a record six times and is widely considered one of the greatest players ever to play the game, alongside Pele and countryman Diego Maradona.

But his inability to win an international title with Argentina always left an asterisk beside his name on the all-time greats list.

That is now gone after an emotional Copa America final at the Maracana stadium decided by a first half goal from Angel Di Maria.

Messi had a quiet game by his own standards and missed a golden chance with two minutes remaining when he appeared to stutter with only the keeper to beat.

But the record books will record he finished the tournament's top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint best player along with Neymar.

More importantly Messi is finally a winner at international level after finishing on the losing side in four previous finals - three times in the Copa America and once in the 2014 World Cup.

People took to the streets in Argentina to celebrate the win, Argentina's first major title since 1993. Argentine TV celebrated the title as Messi's.

The 34-year-old has been in superb form over the last few weeks, scoring four times – including two trademark free kicks - and setting up five goals, a tournament high.

The win brings his dismal run to an end and also caps a remarkable comeback.

Messi was so upset at losing to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final of 2016, exactly as he had done a year before, that he retired from international football.

He changed his mind a few weeks later and helped drag an inconsistent Argentina to the World Cup finals in Russia where once again they crashed out to eventual champions France in the last 16.

Messi failed to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup for the fourth time in a row, raising even more questions about his place on the all-time greats list.

That question has surely been erased after Saturday’s victory in Rio.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by William Mallard)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Football

Soccer-Man United's Fernandes vows to bounce back after penalty miss
Soccer-Guedes double against old club gives Corinthians derby win
Soccer-Real frustrated at home by Villarreal
Soccer-Gueye's goal inspires PSG to Montpellier win
Soccer-More pressure in third division than before Rome Derby - Lazio's Sarri
Soccer-Klopp praises Brentford after thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool
Soccer-Without Haaland, 10-man Dortmund slump to 1-0 loss at Gladbach
Soccer-Liverpool held to 3-3 draw by battling Brentford
Soccer-Inter and Atalanta share spoils in San Siro thriller
Soccer-Moyes praises clinical Antonio as West Ham show resolve

Stories You'll Enjoy