Argentina’s Lionel Messi Scores Stunner But Chile Eke Out 1-1 Draw

Messi found the net with a sublime free-kick in the first half but Chile’s Eduardo Vargas delivered the equalizer. 

2 min read

Argentina's Lionel Messi drew first blood with a signature free-kick but Eduardo Vargas equalised for Chile to leave honours even at 1-1 in their Copa America opener in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

Argentina had a spring in their step in the first half and could have scored at least twice through Lautaro Martínez and Nico González, but both fluffed what were golden chances to put their team in the driving seat. However, Messi weaved his charm after 33 minutes as he curled a superb free-kick into the corner of Claudio Bravo's net from 25 metres to give Argentina the upper hand.

Chile equalised 13 minutes into the second half when Vargas followed up to head home the rebound after Arturo Vidal's penalty was tipped on to the bar by Emiliano Martinez.

The final 30 minutes were about Argentina hitting the gas pedal to try and find a winner, and Messi did create two lovely opportunities for González, who erroneously passed instead of shooting in the former and missed a wide-open header just eight yards from goal in the latter. A similar script had unfolded in the 2-2 draw versus Colombia in a World Cup qualifier in Barranquilla last week when Messi’s teammates struggled to convert and the match ended in a deadlock.

"This match got complicated to us," an exhausted Messi said after the match. "We needed to be calm, have the control of the possession and play more quickly. The penalty changed the match, too.

"We wanted to start winning, it was important to start out with a victory. We played a difficult opponent, Uruguay will also be complicated, two hard matches to start this Copa America."

The tie extended Argentina's unbeaten streak to 14 games under coach Lionel Scaloni, a sequence dating back to the 2019 Copa America semifinal.

Paraguay lock horns against Bolivia in the second Group A game later on Monday, with Uruguay, the fifth team in the section, debuting on Friday against Argentina.

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