Argentina wins it in Metlife stadium despite a late comeback from Chile

A crowd of 81k people gathered in MetLife Stadium | Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano
Credit: Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano

Chile and Argentina returned to Metlife Stadium 8 years after their last meeting in the 2016 final. The reigning world Champions and current Copa America defending champions were looking to secure the 3 points and the qualifying spot to the quarter-finals.

Chile, on the other hand, wanted to bounce back after a hard-fought draw against Peru in the first fixture of their group. The variable for this match, however, was handed by Canada. Their win over Peru earlier in the day set the scenario for Argentina and Chile. Whoever won the game gathered enough breathing space ahead of the last group fixture later this week.

Argentina dominates in New Jersey 

The match began as expected when two good teams faced each other. Each team tries to study its game plan before attempting a scoring opportunity. The action didn’t start until the 20th minute of the match when Julian Fernandez was unable to connect well with the ball after a cross found him unmarked inside the box. Argentina had multiple scoring attempts, but they were unable to find the target.

Alexis Sanchez and Lisandro Martinez | Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano
Alexis Sanchez and Lisandro Martinez | Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano

Nico Gonzales did, however, have the best opportunity to open the score in the 29th minute after a rebound left him in a one-on-one situation against goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Unfortunately, he had a poor finishing choice that allowed Bravo to make the save. Messi followed up with a shot that came within inches of finding the back of the net. Chile was unable to leave their half of the field for most of the first half and almost conceded an own goal after Erick Pulgar made a questionable clearance that missed the goal by inches. 

The second half continued with Argentine dominance, with both Messi and Alexis Macallister having scoring chances that were denied by Claudio Bravo. Alexis Sanchez was unable to make an impact the way many know he was capable of.

The top scorer for Chile was substituted in the 66th minute to find alternatives for the final 15 minutes of the match. Manager Ricardo Gareca addressed the substitution in the post-match as a tactical switch. Ironically, Chile was able to turn things around after the switch. Two great chances by Rodrigo Echeverria in the 71st and 75th minute forced Emiliano Martinez to make consecutive saves to keep a clean sheet. 

Argentina finally broke the tie in the 88th minute after another set-piece play. Angel Di Maria and Messi both tried their luck with Olimpico-style attempts. Turns out the answer was behind a regular play and a perfect-timing sort of moment by Latauro Martinez.

Leonel Messi returned to MetLife stadium as a World Champion | Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano
Leonel Messi returned to MetLife stadium as a World Champion | Credit: Juan Carlos Rubiano

The goal settled the game for Argentina in a very tactical game. Gareca was able to find the key to fight back, but it wasn’t enough to hurt Argentina. The defending champions secured a spot in the quarter-finals with the win over Chile and can focus on the final fixture of the group with a less competitive perspective. Chile will play its final card against Canada and continue its rebuilding process under Ricardo Gareca. 

The results of the night leave the group more than settle for the final matchday of the group. Peru arrives on the brink of elimination. Chile needs to win or draw, but Argentina would have to win against Peru for their chances to be intact. However, Canada has held their own in previous matches. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada managed to pull an upset and beat Chile in the final fixture. The possibilities are endless, but only time will tell if group A gives us the first major upset of the tournament.

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