They’ve done it again – Chile are Copa America champions for the second successive year after beating Argentina on penalties in a re-run of last year’s final.
As in 2015, the game finished 0-0 after extra-time, though Argentina created a host of chances early on, with Ever Banega, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain among those to go close in the opening stages.
Gerardo Martino’s side were handed a boost just before the half hour when Marcelo Diaz was sent off for a second bookable offence, but their numerical advantage lasted only 15 minutes before Marcos Rojo was shown a straight red card.
Messi and Alexis went close to finding winners at the end of normal time before the Arsenal forward was substituted after 104 minutes.
For the second year in a row, the final would be decided by spot kicks – and for the second year in a row, Chile won.
They actually missed their first penalty, Arturo Vidal seeing his effort saved by Sergio Romero, but Lionel Messi then lashed his over the bar.
Nicolas Castillo, Javier Mascherano, Charles Aranguiz, Sergio Aguero and Jean Beausejour all scored before Lucas Biglia was superbly denied by Claudio Bravo.
Alexis’ replacement, Francisco Silva, stepped up to take the deciding penalty and converted it clinically to spark jubilant scenes in New Jersey. It will be recalled that Argentina captain and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi announced his retirement after an unsuccessful duty for his country Argentina. Many soccer pundits have attributed his retirement on frustration and ill-luck in the colors of Argentina National team having lost in their last four finals in competitive soccer tournament.