Chile wrote history on Saturday when they beat Argentina on penalties in the Copa America Final. Alexis Sanchez scored the winning penalty for the hosts, securing Chile’s first ever Copa America championship.
Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago was a sea of red as Chile fans packed the stadium. They were loud and cheered on Sanchez and his teammates as they went up against pre-tournament favorites Argentina. Lionel Messi had a great game for Argentina in the semifinals with three assists in the 6-1 victory over Paraguay.
It was not a goalfest in the final. Instead we saw to disciplined teams that put a lot of effort on making sure they were perfect in the defensive side of the game. After Argentina’s slaughter of Paraguay in the semifinals, they were considered to be the favorites in the final. But it was Chile that had a slight advantage in ball possession.
The Chileans, spurred on by the home fans, had 11 shots, with five hitting the target. Argentina only had five shot towards goal, and only one finding the target.
Both teams had some good scoring chances throughout the game, but after 90 minutes it was still scoreless. With no winner in extra time, penalties were needed in order to decide which nation would be lifting the trophy.
Chile won the penalty shootout 4-1, after two botched penalties by Argentina. Messi scored on Argentina’s first try, but the next two missed and Chile were perfect from the spot. Sanchez scored the deciding penalty and ripped off his jersey while running around celebrating.
This was Chile’s first Copa America win. They have been in the finals before, finishing runners-up at four occasions, the last one was back in 1987. Chile went through this year’s tournament undefeated.
Chile started off the tournament with a 2-0 win over Ecuador in the opening game. The Chileans were the favorites in Group A, with Ecuador, Mexico, and Bolivia. In the second group game, they played Mexico in a wild 3-3 draw. The teams had a total of 17 shots on goal between them in one of the most entertaining games of the tournament.
Chile then went on to destroy Bolivia in the final group stage game 5-0. The two wins and one draw meant that Chile won Group A ahead of Bolivia.
Chile went up against Uruguay in the quarterfinals and won a close 1-0 game. It took until the 81st minute until Mauricio Isla scored the winner. Chile had a vast majority of the possession and had seven shots on target compared to Uruguay’s one shot. In the semifinals, Chile took another one-goal victory as they beat Peru 2-1 after two goals by Eduardo Vargas.
The penalty victory over Argentina is one of the biggest wins in Chilean soccer history and now the country full go into full party mode and celebrate the nation’s first Copa America trophy. Chile has a golden generation right now, lead by Sanchez and Arturo Vidal. They had a strong showing at the World Cup last summer and now they have won the Copa America.
Lionel Messi will have to wait until he gets another shot at winning a title with the Argentinian national team. The world’s best player has not won a trophy with the national team since the Olympic Gold back in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. Messi had a good tournament, but he was unable to step up when they needed him the most. It didn’t help Argentina’s chances when Angel Di Maria had to go off injured in the first half.
Messi did score on his penalty, but the night ended with another heartbreak for the Argentinian team and its fans.