Copa America: Chile's penalty shoot-out win slays Argentina's dreams
Superstar Lionel Messi walks away from another international tournament empty-handed.
On Sunday morning (July 5), Chile stunned Argentina via a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
The winning spot-kick was coolly struck by Aresenal's Alexis Sanchez, as the hosts clinched a 4-1 shoot-out victory when the game ended goalless after extra time.
Sanchez's penalty sent the 45,000 home crowd into wild celebrations as they ended their 99-year-wait for a Copa America crown.
The nail-biting finish came after a tense 0-0 draw in which neither side dominated and clear-cut chances were few and far between.
Chile took control of the shoot-out when Gonzalo Higuain blazed his penalty over the bar before Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo saved Ever Banega’s spot-kick.
Argentina captain Messi, aiming to inspire the South American giants to a first international title in 22 years, could only look on distraught as Chile celebrated.
The four-time world footballer of the year had repeatedly spoken of his desperation to win a title with Argentina after winning everything at club level with Barcelona.
But the 28-year-old superstar was to suffer more disappointment, only 12 months after enduring another agonising extra-time defeat in last year’s World Cup final against Germany in Brazil.
Argentina's Lucas Biglia comforts teammate Ever Banega after Banega missed a penalty kick in a the shootout against Chile during their Copa America 2015 final. PHOTO: REUTERS
Midfielder Javier Mascherano has now played in three losing Argentina teams in Copa America finals, and was also a member of the team beaten in the World Cup final.
“Three Copa America finals, three defeats ... I can’t explain the losing streak,” a dejected Mascherano said.
“We just didn’t seem to have that little bit of luck that you sometimes need to have to win in finals. Is it karma? I don’t know.”
That did not matter to Chilean players who were celebrating the win.
“It is a dream come true. We have worked so hard for this,” said Chile star Arturo Vidal.
The midfielder said Chile had been determined to win the Copa America after exiting the World Cup last year on penalties.
“We talked about it in Brazil that we were going to win the Copa America,” Sanchez said.
“This is really a great generation, we deserve this.”
Sources: Wires, Reddit