Eduardo Vargas canceled out Lionel Messi's magical goal following Emiliano Martinez' superb penalty save in the second half as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by Chile in the Copa America.
Argentina was held to a 1-1 draw by Chile in their opening match of Copa America 2021 at Rio. Lionel Messi gave Argentina the lead with a stunning free-kick goal in the first half. Eduardo Vargas leveled the score in the second half following Emiliano Martinez’s penalty save. Argentina created more chances but wasn’t clinical in front of the goal. Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a number of fine saves to earn a point for the former champions.
Argentina started the match positively. In the eighth minute, Leandro Paredes’ diagonal ball found left-back Taglifiaco inside the penalty area. He headed the ball back to Lionel Messi, but the Barcelona legends shot went wide. Giovani Lo Celso’s pass was hit over the crossbar by a sliding Lautaro Martinez.
In the 15th minute Taglifiaco passed the ball to Lo Celso inside the penalty box. The Tottenham midfielder laid the ball for Nicolas Gonzalez with a back flick. But the Argentine striker’s shot was kept out by Claudio Bravo. Soon after that, Gonzalez got another golden opportunity. Lo Celso released Gonzalez down the middle with a precise through ball. But the 23-year-old forward’s shot went straight to Bravo.
Argentina got a free-kick for Pulgar’s foul on Lo Celso. Argentina’s talisman stepped up and curled the ball past Bravo’s reach with a magical strike to make the score 1-0. It was Messi’s 57th free-kick goal. Messi is 20 away from the all-time leader, former Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who has found the back of the net 77 times from dead-ball situations.
Chile came out all guns blazing in the second half and got the equalizer in the 57th minute. The referee pointed to the spot after VAR consultation. Vidal’s attempt was superbly saved by Martinez but the rebound was headed in by Vargas.
Argentina desperately tried for the winner in the later stages of the game. With 20 minutes remaining, Gonzalez’s cut back found Messi outside the penalty area. Ten minutes from time, Messi gave excellent curling through ball to Gonzalez inside the penalty box. But his header went just over the crossbar. That miss summed up Gonzalez’s frustrating night.
Argentina has some challenges in their quest to win their 15th Copa America title and first for Messi. Chile will be happier of the two sides.