Copa Spotlight: Di Maria scores for his abuela

Even without injured Lionel Messi, Argentina lived up to its billing as one of the favorites to win the Copa Centenario with a 2-1 victory over defending champion Chile before a sellout crowd of 69,491 fans at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Angel Di Maria broke the scoreless deadlock in the 51st minute, then raced over to the sideline and kissed a tee-shirt that read, "Grandma, I will miss you so much." Even his coach, Gerardo Martino, didn't know that Di Maria's grandmother had died earlier in the day.

At the post-game press conference, Martino said he only had found out about what happened five minutes earlier and would have given Di Maria the day off if he had known.

Di Maria said he couldn't not play.

"If I don't play," he said through a translator after the game, "my grandma was going to get mad."

Di Maria was the star for Argentina. Less than two minutes into the game, he found Nicolas Gaitan, who was replacing Messi, for a header that went off the top of the crossbar.

In the second half, Di Maria teamed up with Ever Banega for both Argentina goals. On the first goal, Banega found Di Maria on the break down the left side, and the Paris St. Germain winger beat Chile's Claudio Bravo. On the second seven minutes later, Di Maria fed Banega, whose shot took and slight deflection off defender Mauricio Isla and gave Bravo no chance.

“It's hard for my mother, for my uncles, for everyone," said a tearful Di Maria in the post-game interview with Argentine television network TyC Sports. “It’s difficult to be away when something like this happens. I wanted to play. I'm proud to be on the national team, and my mom asked me to stay here with my teammates and to win the game.”

Later he said how happy he was because he was able to score.

"It was for my grandmother and my family that are having a difficult time," he said. "In the morning, when I knew what happened, I knew that I would score today. And it was for her."

cia estos valores que hoy llevo con la frente en alto. Te quiero con el corazón!

A photo posted by Ángel Di María (@angeldimariajm) on

2 comments about "Copa Spotlight: Di Maria scores for his abuela".
  1. Carl Hudson, June 7, 2016 at 4:16 p.m.

    What a bunch of hackers. The ref should have yellow-carded or red-carded the whole team.

  2. Claus Fischer, June 8, 2016 at 7:20 a.m.

    It seems a bit odd in this day of instant and ubiquitous messaging through so many different apps that coach Gerardo Martino somehow did not know of a death in the family of one of his starting players until the halftime of the match. The entire coaching staff for Argentina was unaware? The AFA delegation? The Argentine press corps constantly swarming around the Argentine squad? Sorry. That does not even sound remotely credible.

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