Lionel Messi was the difference for Argentina, scoring on a spectacular free kick and dribbling his way through the Chilean defence on multiple occasions to set up other scoring chances.
Messi’s superb effort wasn’t enough to save Argentina from a 1-1 draw with Chile in the opening round of the Copa America. Argentine football legend Diego Maradona passed away in November at the age of 60, and his passing was commemorated at the game at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
More Opportunities to Lead Argentina
Now that he turns 34 this month, Messi may only have a few more opportunities to lead Argentina to a championship before his career ends. In spite of his individual achievements and his many club titles with Barcelona, he has called winning with his national team the “greatest desire” of his career.
It looked like Argentina was finally ready to give Messi everything he asks for. Between minutes 16 and 18, Coach Lionel Scaloni’s starting eleven squandered three excellent scoring chances, one created by Lautaro Martnez and two by Nicolás González.
And then, in the 33rd minute, Messi opened the scoring on a free kick that Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo couldn’t stop despite touching the ball to his left. Argentina’s pressure on Chile’s defence remained despite the absence of the striker Alexis Sanchez.
However, Chile became more offensive in the second half, and they were awarded a penalty after a video review. In the 57th minute, Eduardo Vargas headed in a header that was saved from Arturo Vidal’s penalty kick to tie the game.
Messi kept creating chances until the conclusion of the game, but his teammates couldn’t finish them, just like they couldn’t score in the 2-2 draw against Colombia in a World Cup qualifier last week in Barranquilla.
Messi, clearly fatigued, admitted after the tie that “this match got complicated to us.” We had to keep our cool, maintain possession of the ball, and play at a faster tempo. It was clear that the penalty had an impact on the game. In addition, the celebrity was not pleased with what appeared to be an uneven pitch at the stadium.
Gonzalez, a Striker, Said he “Made Too Many Mistakes.”
We should have finished much stronger. “I’m disappointed, but yet proud of what we accomplished today,” he admitted. Vidal of Chile noted that a draw was a positive outcome for his squad, which is in transition under new coach Martin Lasarte despite Messi’s brilliance.
“Every time Leo comes around, you have to switch up your formation. “Thank God, we were able to get a tie,” he exclaimed. We are still regaining our strength and adapting to the new system. It was a very competitive game and we did our best to maintain discipline.
After Colombia and Argentina were no longer listed as co-hosts, the Copa America was abruptly relocated to Brazil. The decision to a country where the death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 490,000 was questioned by several health professionals.
In a World Cup qualifying match two weeks ago in Santiago del Estero, Argentina and Chile also played to a 1-1 draw. Chile’s penalty shootout victories over Messi’s Argentina in the 2015 Copa America final and the 2016 Copa America Centenario championship game ratcheted up the tension between the two countries.
Two years ago, Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 in a Copa America match in which Lionel Messi was sent off for arguing with Chilean defender Gary Medel.
Paraguay’s 3-1 victory over Bolivia at the Olimpico stadium in Goiania gave them the group A lead. Erwin Saavedra scored a penalty kick for Bolivia in the first half, but Alejandro Romero and ngel Romero scored twice for Paraguay after the break to turn the game around.
On Friday, Argentina will take on Uruguay in a soccer match. Matchup between Chile and Bolivia is set for the same day. On Monday, March 4, Paraguay will play again, this time against Messi and his squad.