EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, (Reuters) – Chile upset favourites Argentina with a penalty shootout victory in the Copa America final at MetLife Stadium on Sunday to retain their title in the world’s oldest continental soccer competition.
Chile earned themselves bragging rights as South America’s dominant team as they beat heavyweights Argentina 4-2 on penalties for a second straight year.
Lionel Messi missed from the spot in the shootout, cutting a dejected figure after the result was sealed and Argentina’s trophy drought had been extended to 23 years.
“We are an historic group and we proved that today,” Chilean striker Eduardo Vargas told TV cameras after the game.
The two sides were deadlocked 0-0 after 90 minutes and also after another half an hour of extra time in a match where both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half.
Chilean substitute Francisco Silva placed his penalty low and to the right of Sergio Romero to score the decider after Messi and Lucas Biglia missed for Argentina and Arturo Vidal missed for Chile.
The win was the second Copa America in a row for Chile, who won their first Copa title at home last year in exactly the same fashion, beating Argentina on penalties after the teams had drawn 0-0 after extra time.
The excitement of the penalty finish barely made up for a disappointing game in which both teams failed to provide many memorable moments for the announced sellout 82,000 crowd in New Jersey.
The bulk of first half action involved referee Heber Lopes in an overly physical encounter.
The Brazilian sent off Marcelo Diaz on 27 minutes for a second crude challenge on Messi, and then he levelled the sides 15 minutes later when he showed Marcos Rojo a straight red for a harsh tackle on Vidal.
Three others were booked, including Messi for diving inside the box, in a first half that had as many cards as shots on goal.
The second half provided more of the same and although Chile, who have never beaten Argentina in open play in 26 previous Copa America encounters, at least managed to call Romero into action, neither side created any clear cut chances.
The 30 minutes of extra time was more of the same, although Vargas came close for Chile and substitute Sergio Aguero had a nice header tipped over by Claudio Bravo.
The Centenary Copa America was played in the United States for the first time this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Copa America in 1916.
The tournament was expanded to 16 teams, 10 from South America and six from the CONCACAF region of North and central America and the Caribbean.