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Chile defeats Argentina in Copa America Centenario final

Chile's players celebrate after defeating Argentina in the

Chile's players celebrate after defeating Argentina in the penalty shoot-out and winning the Copa America Centenario final in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States, on June 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images/ OMAR TORRES

Only a year after winning Copa America against neighboring Argentina, Chile repeated the feat Sunday night by defeating its South American rival in the Copa America Centenario final.

The Chileans outlasted the Argentines in the shootout, 4-2, after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer before 82,016 at MetLife Stadium.

Pedro Pablo Hernandez, Charles Aranguiz, Jean Beajusejour and Francisco Silva (game-winner) converted their shots for Chile.

In the first round of penalties, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved Arturo Vidal’s attempt and Lionel Messi booted his attempt wide right.

Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo saved Lucas Biglia’s attempt, setting up Silva’s game-winner.

Chile outlasted the Argentines in last year’s final, winning in penalties, 4-1, after another scoreless draw.

Messi again failed in his quest to win a major international title.

The game turned into more of a contentious affair than a final as referee Heber Lopes (Brazil) handed out yellow and red cards as though they were give-aways. For the record, Lopes awarded two reds — one to each team — and eight yellows.

The first half belonged to Argentina and Lopes.

The Argentines took the game to Chile in the early going, dominating in possession and shots. Lopes was quite busy himself, dismissing two players.

With the game only 20 seconds old, Argentina’s Ever Banega fired a shot from distance just wide left of the goal and a diving Bravo.

While he was motoring toward the penalty area in the 16th minute, Messi was upended on a brutal tackle to his groin by Marcelo Diaz. Diaz received a yellow card for his troubles and Argentina got a 30-yard free kick. Messi, however, did not make the most of the opportunity, sending his attempt directly to Bravo.

Gonzalo Higuain wasted a great chance to put the Argentines a goal up in the 21st minute when he stripped Gary Medel of the ball at midfield and raced in toward the Chilean net. Higuain drilled a 10-yard shot wide left as Medel rammed into the left post and needed medical attention.

Only three minutes later, Argentina came close as Nicolas Otamendi headed Messi’s free kick wide right.

The game became more difficult for Chile in the 29th minute when Diaz was awarded his second yellow card for impeding an onrushing Messi. It appeared Messi ran into the Chilean. After he fell to the ground, Messi put up his right hand, signifying that his foe should be carded. He got his wish as Diaz was sent off.

Lopes had become the most influential person on the field. In the 40th minute, he ruled that Messi took a dive in the penalty area and gave the Barcelona standout a yellow card.

Lopes, however, was far from finished. He sent off Argentina midfielder Marcos Rojo for tackling Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal in the 43rd minute, leaving both teams with 10 players. The ruling seemed to be a bit harsh; it appeared Rojo went for the ball and not the man.

Although the game should have been more open with fewer players on the field in the second half, it took a while for it to open up.

After Argentina cleared a dangerous ball out of its penalty area, Messi almost decided the match a minute into stoppage time. He raced half the length of the field before drilling a shot wide left.

Goalkeepers dominated the first extra-time period. Romero made a save on Vargas’ header in the 99th minute and Bravo parried Aguero’s header off Messi’s free kick a minute later.


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