EAST RUTHERFORD — Just like in last year’s final in Santiago, Chile claimed the Copa America title after a hard fought 0-0 draw and once again Chile conquered the continent in penalty kicks.
The game saw a little bit of everything, from two red cards, a questionable officiating in the first half, important saves by the goalkeepers and a Lionel Messi miss in penalties that ultimately that resulted in Chile second continental title in less than a year.
Coming out strong
From the start of the game, Argentina came out with the initiative and just 15 seconds into the game Ever Banega tried his luck from distance but his shot wen just wide off the mark.
The best from Argentina came early in the first half, Argentina was able to pressure Chile up high and not give them much space to work with, this helped Argenitna recover the ball closer to the opposite goal which allowed them to create a few chances.
In the 19th minute Di Maria took a shot from the edge of the box with his weaker right foot which sailed over the bar, then in the 24th minute Nicolas Otamendi’s header also was off the mark.
In the 20th minute, Gonzalo Higuain stole the ball from Chile’s last defender Gary Medel and had a one-on-one with Claudio Bravo but thought about what too do for too long and his chip over Bravo went wide left of the goal.
Chile who was slightly better in the second half and in the 64th minute had a four on three on the counter but were unable to capitalize after Alexis Sanchez got into an offside position.
In the 84th minute Messi set up Sergio Aguero who had space and his shot sailed over the crossbar.
In stoppage time Alexis Sanchez had the best opportunity for Chile but his shot was saved by Ramiro Funes Mori and led to a counter attack by Argentina in which Messi found space after running past three Chilean players but his shot went wide.
After the miss from Higuain in the first half, the next best opportunity for Argentina came in the 100th minute when an Aguero header which was going into the the top corner was miraculously saved by Bravo.
In the 18th minute Marcelo Diaz earned a yellow for a harsh foul on Messi, 12 minute later he committed another foul on Messi and earned a questionable second yellow as it appeared that a foul call was enough.
In the 42nd minute Marcos Rojo came sliding from behind on Arturo Vidal and saw a straight Red Card despite having made contact with the ball although he appeared to have kicked Charles Aranguiz in the aftermath of the game.
Reducing each team to ten men early forced players to cover more ground and didn’t had the legs to run during extra time and also made both teams worry more about not making a costly mistake rather that go after the goal.
For third straight final Argentina was unable to win a title after reaching the final and also failed to score in those three finals.
Despite not having been involved much in past finals, in today’s game Messi was the best player on the field and carried the team, the problem was that his teammates were far off their best level.
Angel Di Maria who started the game was not 100 percent healthy and had to be replaced early in the second half. Both strikers Higuain, then Aguero failed to make an impact. The second best player in the Argentine side was Ever Banega who did manage to combine in a few plays going on the attack.
Many others like Lucas Biglia in the midfield and Marcos Rojo who got sent off had a horrible outing.
Despite his play during the 120+ minutes of the game on the shootout Messi was unable to convert his penalty after Arturo Vidal had his penalty saved by Romero.
Chile conquered their first Copa America on home soil a year ago and it seemed unfair for them to have to come back just one year later to mount a title defense, but at the same time there couldn’t have been a better moment to do so. Chile’s star players are in their prime and by earning their second title showed the world that they can compete with everyone, anywhere and legitimized themselves as powerhouse in the realm of soccer.
Chile will be the two time defending champions when they play the next edition for Copa America in Brazil in 2019. Next year Chile will have an opportunity to add more silverware when they take part in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
Argentina once again delivered great soccer throughout the tournament but failed to deliver in the final match and even more worrying is the fact that after 360 minutes in three combined final losses Argentina failed to score a single goal.
Argentina will have to wait at least two years to try to break the silverware dry spell at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.