Chile defended their Copa America title in dramatic fashion as they outlasted Argentina to win 0-0 (4-2 on penalties) and deny Argentina and Lionel Messi yet again. The game ended goalless. but some heroics from Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo ensured La Roja retained their title.
The first half of the Copa America 2016 final might have been goalless, but it was definitely not short of entertainment, drama and passion. The game started off with both teams full of energy and running. Argentina predictably created the better chances and openings, but Chile were resolute enough and thwarted most of the Argentine attacks.
The game’s first real moment of drama came in the 28th minute when Chile’s Marcelo Diaz was sent off for a second yellow card. The call to send off Diaz was a bit too harsh as it was literally a case of Messi running into him, rather than him sticking his leg out.
With Chile faced with the prospect of playing with 10 men for more than a hour, it looked like an uphill task for La Roja to defend their title. Gonzalo Higuain should have put Argentina ahead when he was gifted with a gilt-edged opportunity, but the Napoli striker fluffed his lines and failed to make the most of his opportunity. Lionel Messi’s penalty appeals were then overturned and instead, he was rightly booked for simulation.
The drama was far from over in the first half though, and the referee soon evened things out as he sent off Argentina’s Marcos Rojo for a questionable tackle on Vidal. A straight red was shown to the Manchester United defender and once again it was a harsh decision as replays showed that the tackle was not as bad as it first looked.
The first half ended with both the managers fuming at the referee’s decisions.
The second half started off with both teams trying to win the midfield battle. Argentina and Chile struggled to make any real openings however and the two goalkeepers were largely untested.
The Chile midfield of Vidal and Aranguiz worked their socks off to deny Lionel Messi and co any real opportunities. Gerardo Martino introduced Sergio Aguero to replace the ineffective Gonzalo Higuain, but the Manchester City hitman failed to provide any inspiration.
As the game headed to extra time, Chile started looking stronger and the tireless running of Sanchez and Vargas caused the tiring Argentina players some problems. With both sets of players taking shots wildly from long range in the last few minutes, extra time seemed inevitable.
The two top scorers of this tournament, Chile and Argentina ended the regulation 90 minutes goalless.
Extra time was completely different from the second half with both teams creating some excellent openings. The game was almost played end to end with the standout moment being Claudio Bravo’s magnificent save to deny Aguero.
Argentina cranked up the pressure and tried hard to find an opening, but the Chile defence remained solid and the game headed into penalties just like last year’s finals.
The penalty shoot-out was also full of drama. Arturo Vidal and Leo Messi both missed their first penalties, however, Chile’s next 4 penalty takers made no mistake. Argentina’s Lucas Bigila missed the 4th penalty for Argentina and Chile won the shootout 4-2 to hand Argentina more heartbreak in the finals.