Lionel Messi's Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 in Saturday's Copa America final to secure the national team's first title in 28 years and the superstar's first major international trophy.
When the match ended, a tearful Messi was thrown into the air by some of his joyous teammates.
Argentina's winning goal at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro came in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo de Paul made a long pass to di Maria. The 33-year-old veteran striker counted on some sloppy defending from left-back Renan Lodi to take control and lob it past goalkeeper Ederson.
It was only the third goal Brazil conceded in the tournament. Neymar tried hard with dribbles and passes, but the Selecao barely threatened Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. The team of coach Tite had won its previous five matches in the Copa America and scored goals in all of them.
Messi's performance in the final was not as impressive as in previous matches of the tournament, during which he scored four goals and had five assists. He had a clear opportunity in the 88th minute, tried to dribble Ederson, but the Brazilian goalkeeper stopped him.
The title, however, provides the superstar some relief after all the questions throughout his career on his effectiveness playing for the national team.Years of frustration, tears and critiicism; all of that has finally come to a halt for good for Lionel Messi, who now has finally a major international title to his name in Argentina colours. All it took was a moment of excellent football from his teammates Angel Di Maria and Rodrigo de Paul to slot in the solitary goal of the Copa America final against arch-rival Brazil.
It's not a hidden fact that Messi, who boasts an impeccable record with Barcelona as far as titles and goals are concerned, always endured a difficult time winning a title in his national colour. The 34-year-old superstar came close more than a couple of times; namely the 2014 World Cup final, followed by two-back-to-back Copa America final losses to Chile.
However, all that ended when Di Maria scored the most important goal of his life as Argentina took a slender 1-0 lead over arch-rival Brazil at the end of the first half of the Copa America final played at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Brazil.
The only goal of the first half came in the 22nd minute when Di Maria beat the Brazilian defense to receive a long ball on the right flank and then chipped it effortlessly over goalkeeper Ederson's head to slot the ball into the net. The visionary long ball was provided by Rodrigo Paul, who spotted Di Maria run far from Argentina half.
Di maria then survived an injury scare in the match for La Albiceleste as he hopped off the field minutes before the end of first half. The injury happened while the winger chased a long ball on the right flank but his foot gets stuck in the ground. The PSG winger looked in pain as he rolled on the ground but he soon joined the action.
Messi also ended the tournament as top scorer with five goals and four assists during the course of Copa America.
Neymar, on the other hand, had a forgettable day as he got nowhere close to the goal for Brazil. Argentina, however, looked sharp on the counter-attack.