Angel Di Maria pays tribute to his late grandmother after emotional goal

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Just hours after learning that his maternal grandmother had died, Angel Di Maria imagined how she might react if he didn't play in Argentina's Copa America Centenario opener against Chile.

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

On a night when Argentina was missing Lionel Messi due to a back injury, Di Maria delivered under the most trying of circumstances, scoring the opening goal in the 51st minute, and later assisting on Ever Banega's eventual game-winner in a 2-1 victory.

After his goal, the Paris Saint-Germain star held up a shirt that read, "Grandma, I will miss you so much."

"It's difficult to be away when something like this happens," Di Maria said through tears as he accepted the Man of the Match award. "My mom asked me to stay here with my teammates and to win the game."

During his postgame news conference Argentina manager Gerardo Martino indicated that he didn't hear about Di Maria's plight "until five minutes ago."

"Those are very important circumstances and aspects of life that transcend football," Martino said. "[Di Maria] didn't tell me anything. He was feeling good to play. Not all people respond the same in those situations."

Di Maria was a menace throughout the match, starting out on the left side of midfield, and later swapping positions with right midfielder Nicolas Gaitan.

Di Maria later told reporters that the sight of him playing for Argentina filled his grandmother with immense pride, and even in such a difficult moment, that proved inspirational once the whistle blew.

"I am so happy because I was able to score, it was for my grandmother and my family that are having a difficult time," he said. "I knew that I could score.

"In the morning when I knew what happened I knew that I would score today, and that happened and it was for her."