Chile 0-0 Argentina (4-1 pens): Hosts claim first Copa America title with shoot-out win
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 05/07/15 4:00pm
Alexis Sanchez's chipped penalty gave host nation Chile a 4-1 shoot-out victory over Argentina after a goalless draw in the Copa America final in Santiago.
Arsenal forward Sanchez scored the winning spot-kick with a brave 'Panenka' finish after Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega missed for Argentina.
Higuain had earlier also turned a clear chance wide in injury-time in normal time, but Argentina were left still waiting for their first international title since 1993.
Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria was also forced off after just 28 minutes with what looked like a muscular injury in the right leg, but the extent of the problem is still unknown.
Chile were looking for a first Copa America title, while Argentina had tasted defeat in the World Cup final against Germany nearly a year ago.
The first chance fell to Chile, as semi-final hero Eduardo Vargas’ cross found Arturo Vidal 12 yards out, but his volley on the turn was parried clear by Sergio Romero in the Argentina goal.
At the other end, Sergio Aguero’s glancing header from a superb Lionel Messi set-piece was instinctively saved by Claudio Bravo at point-blank range.
Midfielder Di Maria went to ground after a darting run forward with the ball, and despite attempting to play on, was substituted for Ezequiel Lavezzi.
In first-half stoppage time, substitute Lavezzi was found 12 yards out after a pull-back by Javier Pastore, but his side-footed drive was straight at Bravo.
The second half lacked in chances until the final 10 minutes as extra-time loomed. First, Sanchez’s turn and volley 15 yards out at an angle went agonisingly wide of Romero’s goal, but Argentina had the best chance of the game in injury time.
Pastore drove forward on the left with Argentina two on two against the Chile defence, and despite substitute Higuain getting on the end of his superb low ball, he could only turn the ball wide from an angle a yard out.
After a nervy extra-time period, the contest was decided by a shoot-out, and it was Higuain again who contributed to Argentina’s downfall.
Matias Fernandez, Messi and Vidal converted to give Chile a 2-1 lead, before Higuain skied his penalty over the bar. Charles Aranguiz made it 3-1, but Banega’s effort was stopped by the impressive Bravo.
Sanchez stepped up to win it for Chile, producing a deft chip into the middle of the goal to send the Santiago crowd into raptures.