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Chile Stun Argentina Again to Retain Copa America Title

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Chile beat Argentina 4-2 in the penalties to win the Copa America Centenario after the game ended 0-0 in 120 minutes.

In a dramatic turn of events, Leonel Messi missed his penalty in the shootout and Bravo saved Biglia’s penalty to steer Chile to their second Copa America title in a row.

Referee Heber Lopes was the center of attraction in the first half of the game. He booked Marcelo Diaz first in the 16th minute before sending him off in the 28th minute for his foul on Messi. Both Mascherano and Vidal were booked for arguing in the 37th minute before he showed the yellow card to Messi in the 40th minute for simulation in the penalty area.

He would even the game for Chile in the 43rd minute when Rojo was shown a direct red for his challenge on Vidal; replays showed that it was quite a harsh decision as Rojo had clearly contacted the ball first. Argentina had the easiest chance to take the lead in the first half when Higuain wasted his one-on-one chance against Bravo sending the ball wide before it was cleared by Gary Medel.

The first half saw many unnecessary harsh challenges from both the sides  and once they were down to 10 men, they played the remaining minutes with caution. In the second half, Martino replaced an uninspired Di Maria with Matias Kranevitter. The game opened up gradually but neither teams truly tested the defense of their opponents.

As both the teams made their second change (Aguero for Higuain and Puch for Fuenzalida), Romero was forced to save Vargas’s shot with a low dive. Messi set up Aguero for a wonderful chance but Aguero shot high away from the crossbar in the 85th minute.

In the dying seconds of full time, Beausejour ran forward trying to pick out Sanchez in Argentina’s penalty area but Sanchez was denied of his opportunity Funes Mori’s last-minute tackle. At the other end, Messi’s solo run towards Chile’s goal ended with him sending the ball wide as the match went on to the extra time.

Romero denied Vargas again before Bravo arguably produced the save of the tournament in the 101st minute, as he tipped Aguero’s goal-bound header from Messi’s free kick over the crossbar, denying Argentina their best chance of scoring. Chile made two substitutions bringing on Silva and Castillo for Sanchez and Vargas whereas Argentina replaced Banega with Lamela. As the scores remained level after extra time, the final of the Copa America went to penalties for the second straight year.

The match ended 0-0 after extra time
The match ended 0-0 after extra time

Romero saved Vidal’s penalty and Messi sent his penalty wide much to the woes of the Argentine fans. Mascherano and Aguero scored from their penalties for Argentina but Chile ultimately emerged victorious as Castillo, Aranguiz, Beausejour and Silva scored from their respective penalties while Bravo denied Biglia from scoring.

Messi and Argentina continued their 23-year long trophy drought as Chilean players and fans celebrated at the MetLife Stadium. The Argentine skipper was seen weeping for the loss, unable to contain the grief of losing a final for the third year in a row.

Another final, another defeat for Leonel Messi
Another final, another defeat for Leonel Messi

Vargas won the golden boot of the tournament as he scored 6 goals in 6 matches while Sanchez and Bravo won the Golden Ball and Golden Gloves respectively for Chile. As Bravo lifted the Copa America Centenario trophy for his team, a crestfallen Argentina team looked on. They had none but themselves to blame for this defeat.

Chile are the champions of the Copa America Centenario
Chile are the champions of the Copa America Centenario

During the post match interview, Messi remarked that he may not represent Argentina again after losing his fourth final with the national team. It is still unclear whether the decision is final or not. The night will haunt him and his teammates for a long time until they finally win a major trophy for Argentina.

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