Chile captures Copa America crown
SANTIAGO, Chile — Hosts Chile won the Copa America Saturday to lift the first major trophy in their history, beating Argentina 4-1 in the penalty shootout.
The score remained 0-0 after 120 minutes, triggering the penalty shootout. Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega missed their shots for Argentina in Santiago’s National Stadium after Lionel Messi made the first shot.
Matias Fernandez, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz and Alexis Sanchez were all on target for Chile.
Host captain Claudio Bravo lifted the trophy before an exultant home crowd.
The current generation of Chile players, led by Vidal, Sanchez, Bravo and Argentinian-born coach Jorge Sampaoli, became the best in the country’s history, at least in terms of results.
This generation of Argentina players, many of whom already lost the 2007 Copa America final and last year’s World Cup final, were unable to win their country’s first senior title since 1993.
Uruguay remains the team with the most Copa America titles, 15, while Argentina stay on 14. Chile had been runners-up four times.
In the first half, Chile controlled possession and exercised great pressure on Argentina. However, the best chances were blue and white. A header from Sergio Aguero 20 minutes into the match and a shot from Ezequiel Lavezzi in injury time ended in easy saves for Chile keeper Bravo.
Eduardo Vargas had a good chance for Chile in counterattack in the 22nd minute, but his distant shot went very high.
The second half started with intensity but without clear chances, though Chile came closest. Sanchez sent a volley wide off the far post in the 81st minute.
In injury time, a great run from Messi set up Lavezzi on the left, but the PSG forward’s cross was too far forward and Higuain’s shot found the outside of the net.
At the end of the first half of extra time, Javier Mascherano lost a dangerous ball in midfield and inadvertently set up Sanchez. Pablo Zabaleta managed to get in the Chilean’s way, and the Arsenal striker’s shot went high.
With less than five minutes to go, Argentina keeper Sergio Romero deflected a free kick taken by Matias Fernandez.
Angel Di Maria, who missed last year’s World Cup final due to injury, was on the pitch for less than half an hour and had to be taken off with what appeared to be a muscle tear. Lavezzi came on instead.