Chile beats Argentina on penalties to win Copa America again
With the match ending 0-0, Juan Antonio Pizzi's side went on to repeat its shootout heroics of last year's final against the very same opponents. Chile had to recover from Arturo Vidal's opening penalty miss, but scored the next three. Lionel Messi and Lucas Biglia missed for Argentina. Francisco Silva slotted home to make it 4-2 and win the 2016 Copa America for Chile.
The final was played at break-neck speed with both sides holding nothing back in their attempts to secure major silverware for their respective nations. It was clear from the off that both Argentina and Chile were very much up for a blood and thunder repeat of last year's final, which saw Chile secure a 4-1 victory on penalties.
While goals seemed inevitable in the first half - with Argentina and Chile scoring a collective 34 times before the final - the speed and ferocity of the game instead yielded two red cards, with Chile's Marcelo Diaz shown two yellows for challenges on Lionel Messi in the first 28 minutes, and Argentina defender Marcos Rojo sent off for a dangerous lunge on Arturo Vidal.
Gonzalo Higuain spurned the best chance of the half, clipping the ball wide when one on one with Chile keeper Claudio Bravo. The Napoli striker had scored twice during his side's comfortable 4-1 quarterfinal success against Venezuela and repeated the feat in their last-four tie against the US, but struggled to impose himself on the match. Along with winger Angel Di Maria, manager Gerardo Martino took him off in the second half.
Argentina were impressive throughout the tournament, easily progressing through the group stages with victories over Chile, Panama and Bolivia. The team went in the final as firm favorites, having struck home eight goals in the quarters and the semis.
Chile, who bounced back from an opening Copa defeat against Argentina with victories over Bolivia and Panama to reach the last eight, were undeterred by their underdog status in the final, looking to match their illustrious opponents across the board from the off.
The Argentinian defense had to be at its best to thwart the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, 2016 Copa America’s top scorer, who grabbed four goals in Chile's 7-0 rout of Mexico in the quarterfinal.
Theatrics and flashpoint confrontations were rife throughout the 90 minutes, with referee Heber Lopes struggling to control proceedings. The Brazilian official showed 21 yellows and three red cards in his last four matches at the Copa America, with the final suffering as a result of constant breaks in play.
The majority of those breaks came from fouls on Argentina captain Messi, who looked to dance and skip around Chile’s defenders all evening.
Professional fouls on the Barcelona superstar were a common occurrence, with the 29-year-old at the heart of the majority of Argentina's attacking play throughout the game.
The tempo somehow increased after the end of standard time, with Messi's freekick in the first half of extra time leading to substitute Sergio Aguero clipping the bar via the outstretched glove of Claudio Bravo just moments after Vargas had almost given Chile the lead with a diving header at the other end.
With the match ending in a stalemate it was down to penalties to decide the 2016 Copa America final, with Chile once again ousting their South American rivals in a shootout - this time via the right boot of defensive midfielder Silva.