Internationals

PSG's Di Maria: 'We will never forget this!'

Publish on 11/07/2021 at 11:00 - S. WILLIS

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Paris Saint-Germain superstar Angel Di Maria scored a sensational lob to beat Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final in Rio and hand Argentina a first International title in 28 years. The South American showpiece had a distinctly Parisian flavour, with Neymar, Marquinhos and Leandro Paredes also on show.

Having lifted the Copa America every previous time the continental showdown had been held in Brazil (1919, 1922, 1949, 1989 and 2019), Neymar and his Seleção teammates had history on their side heading into Saturday's final against Argentina at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Unforgettable

On top of that, it had been 28 years since Argentina had last won an international title - the Copa in 1993 - and so the stage was set for a dramatic turn when Paris Saint-Germain ace Di Maria raced onto a superb thorough-pass from Rodrigo De Paul and produced a trademark lob to beat Ederson (22') and end the football-mad nation's long wait for silverware.

"We will never forget this!" said Di Maria after the historic win that ended a string of last-hurdle disappointments (the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa in 2007, 2015 and 2016). "[Lionel] Messi said thank you to me, I said thank you to him. He told me it was my final, that it was revenge for the finals I couldn't play in. It had to be today and today it was. We dreamed of this win for so long."

Many had been thinking that all-time Albiceleste great Messi - tournament MVP, top scorer (four goals) and assists leader (five) - might end his career without leading his country to a major title, but that wait too is now over, and Argentina move level with neighbours Uruguay on a record 15 Copa titles, leaving Brazil six lengths shy on nine.

'A great boost'

"We fought so hard. A lot of people were telling us not to come back but we kept banging our heads against the wall and today the streak was broken. I'm happy for my daughters, for my wife, for my parents, for all the people who supported us and for all the crazy people who came here," continued Di Maria. "There's a World Cup coming up soon and this is a great boost."

The immense joy for Di Maria, fellow Parisian Leandro Paredes and their compatriots came at great cost for the final's other Ligue 1 Uber Eats representatives - Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar Jr and Marquinhos as well as Olympique Lyonnais' Lucas Paqueta - who fought valiantly but couldn't break down a resolute Argentinean defence.