Argentina survive late scare to win their first Copa America 2016 game 2-1 against Chile
Argentina roared to a 2-1 win over Chile in a replay of last year's Copa America final at the Levi's Stadium early this morning. Goals from Angel di Maria and Ever Banega gave Argentina the lead until a Jose Funzalida header in the dying seconds of the game dampened the scoreline.
Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Erik Lamela were all left on the bench by Tata Martino as he preferred to stick with a safe 4-3-3 formation. For Chile, it was a full-strength squad who were supposed to make this game an even fight.
The first half started in a rather dull fashion with both teams playing the game safe. Nicolas Gaitan and Angel di Maria looked the part for Tata Martino's men constantly tormenting the Chile defence while Gonzalo Higuain looked a shadow of himself.
For Chile, Alexis Sanchez was silenced for much of the first half but started to make an impact in the game when moved from the right wing into the centre. His link-up play with Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal was mesmerising at times but even he couldn't do enough to ensure Chile left the game with something.
In midfield, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Augusto Fernandez put in a superb shift constantly thwarting Chile's attacks and setting up the resulting counter attack. With the likes of di Maria and Gaitan sticking to the sidelines, Banega and Mascherano put their diagonal-passing skills to the test.
While most of the spotlight shone on the midfield and the forwards, both the teams put in superb defensive shifts. Chile did well until di Maria broke free on the left and shot past Claudio Bravo and could nothing for the deflected effort of Banega.
Argentina's defence, meanwhile, were superb on the day with Ramiro Funes Mori and Nicolas Otamendi playing all the right cards at the right time but could've done better to prevent Fuenzalida's header in the dying seconds of the game. While Sergio Romero – who had yet another good game – might take the blame for the goal conceded, Argentina could have set up higher.
Both the teams drew a surprisingly high number of supporters at the Levi's stadium in Santa Clara, California and will look to keep the same tempo going forward in the tournament. Argentina and Chile both have to still play Panama and Bolivia in the next week and will look to gain a foothold in their group as soon as possible.