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Copa America: Messi scores but Argentina held by Chile

June 15, 2021 09:37 IST
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Images from Copa America matches played on Monday.

Argentina's Lionel Messi is challenged by Chile's Tomas Alarcon during their Copa America Group A match on Monday

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi is challenged by Chile's Tomas Alarcon during their Copa America Group A match on Monday. Photograph: Sergio Moraes/Reuters

Argentina's Lionel Messi scored one of his trademark free kicks in the first half but Eduardo Vargas equalised for Chile in the second to leave honours even at 1-1 in their Copa America opener in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

When the two sides met in a World Cup qualifier earlier this month, Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo acrobatically saved one Messi free kick and another hit the woodwork but this time the Barcelona player went one better, curling a superb set piece into the corner of the net from 25 meters out after 33 minutes.

 

Although they overcame Argentina on penalties in the Copa America finals of 2015 and 2016, Chile had never beaten their neighbours over 90 minutes in this tournament and their task got even harder after Messi opened the scoring.

Missing Alexis Sanchez through injury, the Chileans nevertheless battled back to equalise 13 minutes into the second half in rather fortunate circumstances after a VAR consultation led to them being awarded a penalty kick.

Arturo Vidal’s powerful shot was superbly tipped on to the bar by Emiliano Martinez but Vargas followed up to head home the rebound.

The game was played in a deserted Nilton Santos stadium, the site of the track and field events at the 2016 Olympic Games, with both sides getting bogged down on a poor pitch.

Chile will be happier with a point than Argentina, who have now drawn four of their last five games.

The Argentines, with Messi always dangerous but Stuttgart winger Nicolas Gonzalez profligate in front of goal, had more chances to win all three points.

“We had six or seven clear chances and we missed them and Chile got a good draw,” said keeper Martinez.

“The chances we made today were enough to win by four- or five-one."

Chile, though, are nothing if not resilient and they defended stoutly throughout and particularly during the final moments when their opponents threw balls into the box looking for a winner.

Paraguay take on Bolivia in the second Group A game later on Monday, with Uruguay, the fifth team in the section, debuting on Friday.

Paraguay come from behind to beat Bolivia 3-1

Paraguay's Kaku celebrates scoring their first goal against Bolivia during their Group A match

IMAGE: Paraguay's Kaku celebrates scoring their first goal against Bolivia during their Group A match. Photograph: Diego Vara/Reuters

Paraguay went behind to an early penalty but scored three times in the second half for a 3-1 win over Bolivia, who were reduced to 10 men just before halftime in their Copa America opener on Monday.

Bolivia were without five players who tested positive for COVID-19, including striker Marcelo Martins, who scored seven times in Bolivia’s last seven games.

They had not beaten Paraguay in a Copa America clash since 1963 but their hopes were raised after only 10 minutes when they took the lead from the penalty spot.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) awarded a penalty for handball and Erwin Saavedra converted low to the keeper’s left.

Paraguay were also awarded a penalty midway through the first half but VAR overturned the decision due to an offside, and while they dominated they could not turn their pressure into goals.

Striker Kaku, who plays his league football in Saudi Arabia, was guilty of a desperate miss when he fired wide three minutes before halftime when it looked easier to score.

The game swung Paraguay’s way in added time at the end of the first half when 19-year-old Bolivian forward Jaume Cuellar was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

Paraguay dominated from the restart and made the breakthrough after 62 minutes when Kaku’s low volley skipped past a diving Ruben Cordano.

After failing to win a match at the last two Copa America tournaments, Paraguay made sure of the points thanks to Angel Romero, who prodded home after 65 minutes when Cordano failed to hold a goal-bound header and then finished smartly by slipping a shot between the keeper and his near post with 10 minutes left.

The result leaves Paraguay top of Group A, ahead of Argentina and Chile, who drew 1-1 earlier on Monday. Uruguay, who are fourth, open their account against Argentina on Friday.

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Source: REUTERS
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