Chile is the best team in the Americas again, and Claudio Bravo is the man who made it happen. The Barcelona goalkeeper saved Lucas Biglia’s penalty in overtime before Francisco Silva converted on the winner.
Chile, which had never won Copa América before 2015, has now won two in less than a year. It’s more of a “Copa América” title though, as CONMEBOL clarified in a statement. The governing body of South American fútbol said that though this is a recognized international tournament, the winner would not really be a Copa América champion, as the winner of the 2015 tournament would retain that title until the next tournament in 2019.
Chile has now established itself as one of the best teams in the world, with strong showings at the 2014 World Cup to go along with back-to-back Copa América wins. If it can qualify, La Roja will go into the 2018 World Cup as one of the favorites.
The game got ugly near the 30-minute mark of the first half when Chile’s Marcelo Díaz earned his second yellow card and left La Roja with ten men. Both of Díaz’s bookings were the result of obstructing Lionel Messi breakaways. Argentina’s man advantage would last less than 20 minutes, as Marcos Rojo earned a red for a hard challenge on Arturo Vidal. Even with more space available to both teams, there weren’t many chances in the second half and the game ended up scoreless after 90 minutes.
It’s safe to say Brazilian referee Heber Lopez didn’t have the best of games, but maybe both teams should have known ahead of time that he’s prone to giving out cards like candy.
Bravo became the hero in penalties, but the game only made it to that point due to his great save on a Kun Agüero header in extra time.
As for Messi, he remains the best player in the world, but he won’t sleep well for a while after badly missing his kick from the spot. As the first taker for Argentina, he had a chance to put his team in a strong position after Chiquito Romero saved Vidal’s shot. After his miss, a distraught Messi struggled to even watch the rest of the kicks. Though he’s won everything there is to win at club level with Barcelona, he’s still yet to lead Argentina’s senior team to a win at an international tournament. His next opportunity will come in 2018. He shouldn’t be too hard on himself. He’s led Argentina to three straight finals, and just isn’t capable of doing everything himself.
Gonzalo Higuaín, who has been prolific at club level but unlucky in the World Cup final in 2014 and the Copa América final last year, will take his share of the blame as well. He botched a one-on-one against Claudio Bravo that would have given Argentina the lead in the first half. But the credit has to go to the Chileans, who for the second straight year kept their composure on penalties and delivered another championship.