Defending champs Chile defeat Argentina to lift centenary Copa America

no photo

© Getty

Defending champs Chile defeat Argentina to lift centenary Copa America

In a repeat of the 2015 final, Chile defeated Argentina in the penalty shoot-out for their second successive and the centenary edition of the Copa America Cup. At the end of a physical match with only 10-men a side, Lionel Messi & co cut a sad figure after losing their third successive major final.

The centenary edition of the Copa America promised to be a fitting finale with the defending champions Chile and the strongest contenders Argentina having come through the tumbler–Argentina had proven formidable with an unbeaten record all through. On the other hand, it was a replay of the last final in 2015 which Argentina had lost in penalties to Chile 1-4. In fact, Argentina have reached four of the last five finals including today, but had lost after they failed to score in the last two finals. It was finally time for Messi & Co to exorcise their demons, and they had shown what they can do to this Chile team with a 2-1 win 20 days back in the opening game of group D.

CHILE (4-3-3): Bravo; Isla, Medel, Jara, Beausejour; Vidal, Diaz, Aranguiz; Fuenzalida, Sanchez, Vargas.

ARGENTINA (4-3-3): Romero; Mercado, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano, Banega; Messi, Di Maria, Higuain

1. Brutally physical play ends with 10-man teams

Argentina were the first to get off, to a flying start, but the first few minutes showed that this was going to be an intense and physical affair – pressing high up the pitch, both teams did not shun from trading blows. 5th minute – Alexis Sanchez goes down. 7th minute –Angel di Maria. 9th minute – Charles Aranguiz. All three came back into play after some time, though, and the first yellow card came in the 16th minute for Marcelo Diaz, who hacked Messi down.

With Argentina dictating play, chances came and went in the 19th and 23rd minute with Di Maria and Higuain missing – Higuain's, in particular, should have taken Argentina to their first goal in three major finals. Finally, in the 28th minute, Lionel Messi ran ahead to find Diaz holding his ground and collided into him – and Diaz picked up his second yellow to send Chile into 10-man territory for 62 minutes of the match. It was a harsh decision, and the physical match appeared to be slipping out of the referee's hands.

Yellows ensued soon for sure even as Chile looked to take back possession and looked the better side on the field. 37th minute - Mascherano, Vidal 40th minute – Messi, all picked up the yellow card. But the dramatic first half was in for a finale in the 43rd minute. Marcos Rojo, with a challenge on Vidal from behind, appeared to have gotten the ball, but Vidal was down from the tackle, and the referee wasted no time in dishing out a straight red – it was a yellow at best, but both teams were now down to 10-men.

2. Deadlock continues; into extra-time as well

Although Chile had yet to register a single shot on goal, they were the better team eventually in the first half. With Messi almost absent from play, and Chile benefiting from the open play, Higuain receiving and squandering another chance in the 56th minute, Di Maria being replaced in the 58th, and finally, Sergio Aguero finding his way on to the pitch, it looked like a WC 2014 replay. And the match was indeed drifting towards a similar finish as both teams looked lost for the final touch.

In the 80th minute, Chile had their best chance so far as Sanchez put Vargas through, but the Sergio Romero brought up his first save of the night to thwart the shot that came from a tight angle. In the 84th minute, Argentina could have taken the Cup then and there if Aguero could have finished a wonderful chance - any other day, he would have finished it, but on this day, the Man City forward only managed to sky his attempt. As both teams quelled final chances in regular time, the match went into extra-time.

Both teams had golden chances in the extra-time - in the 9th minute, Vargas' header was stopped by Romero, while Aguero's header, which looked a goal until the end, was pushed over the bar by Bravo in the 10th minute. After 90 minutes of listless play, the two minutes represented the best portion of the match, but it soon returned to baseline for the rest of extra-time as the centenary Cup headed towards a shootout.

3. Penalty Shootout

For the second time, the Copa America final went into the shootout gamble after 120 minutes of fruitless play.

Vidal – Miss; Messi – Miss

Castillo – Scores ; Mascherano – Scores

Aranguiz – Scores; Aguero – Scores

Beausejour – Scores ; Biglia – Miss

Silva – Scores

And that was how Argentina missed their third major successive final. Lionel Messi could not help but walk away, clutching his head, towards the dugout where he cut a lonely figure.

These Indian kids can create footballing history, but they need your help. You can help Slum Soccer send 20 of our most talented footballers to represent INDIA at the Homeless World Cup at Glasgow. Click here to know more

Predict FIFA World Cup Matches & Win Cash!

Play & WIN upto ₹75,000 Cash! Join FIFA World Cup Challenge NOW! Click here & start predicting!

Win Cash Everyday on NostraGamus! Play Now on Android & predict matches of ANY Sport! Click here to Download Now & Get ₹40 Cash Bonus!!