An entertaining, bruising Copa America had an entertaining, bruising conclusion as Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 to lift the 2021 edition and be crowned champions of South America. A delightful chip in the 22nd minute from Angel Di Maria proved enough to seal the deal.
Here are the best stats from the final:
The stat that rises above all else. Lionel Messi has won his first major title with Argentina.
Argentina are the first team in men's football history to defeat Brazil in consecutive fixtures played at the historic Maracana (Argentina won their last meeting there in a 1998 friendly just a couple months before the World Cup).
They are also the only team with three wins against Brazil at the Maracana (also won in 1957).
An interesting aside. This was the first ever meeting between Messi and Neymar at the Copa America, and their first and only head-to-head in a final since the 2011 Club WC final between Santos and Barcelona. It was also the first time they had played each other since Neymar made that transfer-market-shattering move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona.
Di Maria's goal helped Argentina snap a a four-game scoreless streak in the finals of major tournaments.
Emiliano Martínez kept more clean sheets (four) than any other goalkeeper at the 2021 Copa America, becoming the first Argentina goalkeeper to win the Golden Glove since the award's introduction.
Messi finishes the tournament as joint leader in goals (four) and outright leader in assists (five), thus winning the Golden Boot and the award for the Best Player of the Tournament.
This is the sixth time Brazil have hosted the Copa America and the first time they have failed to win it as hosts. Their previous five wins came in 2019, 1989, 1949, 1922 and 1919.
Argentina has won a knockout stage meeting against Brazil for the first time in seven tries. They last beat Brazil in a knockout stage game in the 1993 Copa America quarterfinals.
This was Messi's 10th senior international tournament. This is how they have gone:
2006 World Cup - quarterfinals; 2007 Copa America - final; 2010 World Cup - quarterfinals; 2011 Copa America - quarterfinals; 2014 World Cup - final; 2015 Copa America - final; 2016 Copa America - final; 2018 World Cup - round of 16; 2019 Copa America - semifinals; 2021 Copa America: champions.
The opener was Angel Di María's first goal for Argentina in any competition since his goal against France in the 2018 World Cup -- snapping a drought of 13 games without a goal for La Albiceleste, his longest ever with the national team.
This was Argentina's 15th Copa America title, tying Uruguay atop the all-time winners charts.
This win ended a 28-year major title drought for Argentina, whose last last major title was the 1993 Copa America.
Argentina's win sees them level the head-to-head with their greatest rivals at 39 wins apiece (they have also played out 25 draws).
This was the first time Argentina have defeated Brazil in a major tournament final since the Copa America in 1937 -- 84 years ago.
Not a stat per se, just an interesting bit of trivia that adds another layer to the connection between the two greatest footballers of this generation -- Messi won the first senior international trophy of his career on July 10, 2021. Cristiano Ronaldo won his first senior international trophy on July 10, 2016.
(Stats courtesy ESPN's Stats & Information Group)