Lionel Messi has expressed his happiness and relief at finally winning silverware with Argentina after Saturday’s Copa America 2021 triumph over Brazil at the Maracana.
Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 after Angel Di Maria’s 22nd-minute strike, earning six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi his maiden piece of silverware with La Albiceleste.
Messi has finished runner-up in the Copa three times; 2007, 2015 and 2016, as well as runner-up at the 2014 World Cup and revealed his joy after the game.
“I needed to get the thorn out of being able to achieve something with the national team, I had been very close for many years,” Messi told reporters.
“I knew that at some point it was going to go right, it was going to happen and I think there is no better moment than this.
“I feel that God was saving this moment for me, against Brazil in the final and in their country.”
Along with breaking 34-year-old Messi’s international duck, it is also was Argentina’s first Copa America since 1993, ending a 28-year wait.
“We still cannot believe that we are champions and what we have achieved,” Messi said. “But I think it will be a match that will remain in history, not only because we are champions of South America but also because we beat them Brazil in their country.”
Argentina’s win marked 20 games unbeaten under head coach Lionel Scaloni and offered optimism for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Scaloni has changed the Argentine side, with relative newcomers Emiliano Martinez, Rodrigo De Paul, and Cristiano Romero impressing.
“Lionel deserves special merit,” Messi said. “He always wanted the best for the national team. He knew how to put together a winning team and deserves recognition.”
Messi added: “We have to take advantage of this generation, this new crop of players. I told them they were going to be the future of the national team and I was not wrong. They showed it, today we are champions.”
Scaloni also heaped praise on Messi who was named Player of the Tournament alongside Brazil’s Neymar.
The Argentine finished as the equal top scorer with four goals as well as most assists (five).
“If all Argentines knew about the way he played this Copa America, they would love him more and more,” Scaloni said. “I have no doubt.
“I, as a coach, could never do without this player, including playing in inferior conditions than we faced in this final and the semi-final.
“That’s the kind of player we have and we have to enjoy because one day in your career you won’t be playing anymore. I have no words for him, he makes things easier on a daily basis.”
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk confirmed
Anthony Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn has confirmed the British boxer’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua was outboxed and dethroned by Usyk at the Tottenham Stadium on Saturday night.
AJ could not withstand Usyk’s speed, movement and accuracy and the Ukrainian is now the new heavyweight champion.
Although the Nigerian-born boxer recorded some moments of success throughout the fight, they weren’t enough to give him victory.
The bell saved AJ from being knocked out as Usyk ultimately outclassed Joshua and had him out on his feet in the final round.
The Ukrainian boxer recorded 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 against Joshua to emerge a two-division king of the world.
Hearn told Sky sport that AJ has vowed to win the rematch which will certainly be his next fight: “I spoke to him [Joshua].
“It was a tough fight, gruelling fight, he’s not quite talking the way you’d expect him to talk at the moment.
“Devastated. Already talking about training again. They want to look at the eye socket, he says it’s fine.
“That was always the danger of the fight – you overthink the fight, you try and be too technical, you don’t use your attributes and you don’t make your mark early enough in the fight.
“AJ’s desire is still there.
“The fighter in AJ is already talking about, ‘I’ll win the rematch, I’ll win the rematch.’
“It was a tough defeat. Usyk was the deserved winner and he’s got to make changes in the rematch.
“He will want to go straight back into that rematch, he will be the underdog in the rematch this time after that tonight, but that’s what he does.
“He chose tonight to take on a pound-for-pound great. It didn’t work out, but he should get credit for that.
“He was beaten by the better man and congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk.”
John Owen Nwachukwu, Daily Post
Why Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua -Hearn, others
Boxing analysts and promoter have given an insight into why Oleksandr Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua in London on Saturday.
The PUNCH had reported that Usyk ended Joshua’s reign as world heavyweight champion with a stunning unanimous points decision victory on Saturday, scuppering hopes of a ‘Battle of Britain’ unification bout with fellow world title-holder Tyson Fury.
Joshua ended the 12th and final round of the contest backed up on the ropes, with the cheers of a crowd of more than 62,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium no match for the skills of his challenger.
The impressive Ukrainian triumphed 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on the scorecards of the three judges in just the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion’s third bout as a heavyweight.
Reacting, boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn, said, “Usyk is very fit, he’s got great feet, he threw a lot of punches.
“He was probably a bit more aggressive than anticipated.
“It was a tough defeat. He got beat by the better man on the night.
Sodiq Oyeleke, Punch News
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Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season was brought to an end as Manchester City moved level on points with the Blues thanks to a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Gabriel Jesus’ second-half strike gave Pepe Guardiola’s men a deserved victory as they gained small revenge for last season’s Champions League final defeat to Thomas Tuchel’s men by the same scoreline.
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