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Argentina win Finalissima after beating Italy

Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria shone as Argentina beat Italy at Wembley in the Finalissima – a renewal of the contest between the champions of Europe and South America.

Messi’s run and cross set up the opener for Lautaro Martinez, who then turned provider for Di Maria to chip a second.

Substitute Paulo Dybala rounded off a handsome win in injury time.

Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini played the first half of what was his 118th and final international match.

The contest is the first between the two continental champions in 29 years.

It is a revival of the Artemio Franchi Cup, competed for twice before – in 1985, when France beat Uruguay and in 1993, when Argentina beat Denmark on penalties.

Argentina’s victory continues their remarkable run of results since June 2019 – they are unbeaten in 32 matches, winning their first Copa America since 1993 and cruising through qualification for the World Cup in Qatar in the process.

Their side at Wembley showcased a host of elite global talent, including a stellar front three of Di Maria, Martinez and Messi, who were a menace throughout with their movement and neat interplay.

It was Di Maria and Messi who truly stood out, however, staging their own mini contest with Paris St-Germain club-mate and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in what became an increasingly one-sided affair.

Inside two minutes, Di Maria was attempting to lob Donnarumma from close to halfway. By the end of the first half, he had scored a magnificent chip to follow up Martinez’s opener, created by a typically untouchable Messi run and cross.

Italy were simply grateful to their keeper for the string of impressive saves he made to keep the scoreline respectable, before Dybala fired in low with the last kick of the game.

Behind Argentina’s front three, Giovani lo Celso and Rodrigo de Paul were a constant source of energy and positivity while Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero provided grit and guile when needed at the back.

It is 36 years since Argentina won the World Cup. With this side, marrying its undoubted talent with a supreme work-rate, they would appear to have an excellent chance of ending their wait for a third global crown.

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