Chile is the Copa America champion again after outlasting Argentina in penalty kicks 4-2 following a 0-0 draw at a sold-out MetLife Stadium.
Last summer, Chile ended a 99-year title drought, capturing its first Copa America by ousting Argentina in penalties following a 0-0 draw, and it was deja vu for the two sides on Sunday. Both lost a player to a red card in the first half and both spurned the few chances that they had in regulation, with both goalkeepers coming up huge in extra time with clutch saves. Unlike in earlier knockout matches in this Copa America, this one did not go straight to penalties, with extra time used first.
Francisco Silva, who entered for Alexis Sanchez, scored the decisive PK after Lionel Messi put his chance over the bar and Claudio Bravo saved Lucas Biglia's spot kick. It was Sanchez who scored last year's decisive kick. Sanchez was also awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
The way it started, it looked like it'd be an attack-friendly match. Ever Banega tried to fire Argentina in front right off the opening kick, missing just wide 16 seconds in:
With physical play ruling throughout, Messi got chopped down by Marcelo Diaz, about 30 yards from goal. He lined up the free kick and went for goal, but he couldn't replicate his effort against the United States in the semifinals, instead hitting his chance right at his club teammate, Bravo:
Gonzalo Higuain missed a golden opportunity soon after. Following a giveaway from Gary Medel, Higuain was in on goal all alone, but he elected to chip Bravo, and he put his chance wide of the post. After Higuain's misses in the 2014 World Cup final and 2015 Copa America final, this is nothing new for Argentina supporters:
The game took a turn for Argentina in the 28th minute, as Diaz was sent off for taking down Messi again. He appeared to obstruct Messi's path, and that was evidently enough for referee Heber Roberto Lopes to send him off.
The man advantage didn't last very long. Marcos Rojo was given a straight red by Lopes in the 43rd minute for a tackle from behind on Arturo Vidal, making it 10-v-10:
The second half was largely devoid of opportunities, but none was better than Sergio Aguero's in the 84th. After coming on for Higuain, Aguero had a clear look from just inside the box after being set up by Messi, but he skied his shot:
Each team had a good look in stoppage time of regulation. Ramiro Funes Mori's sliding challenge blocked a cross that was destined for Sanchez at point-blank range, and it sparked a counter the other way. Messi tried to do it on his own, though, and blasted his shot wide of the post:
Both goalkeepers came up with massive saves in extra time. First, Vargas put a header on frame after an Argentina turnover, but Romero made a diving stop. On the other end, Aguero's looping header was on its way under the crossbar, but Bravo made a remarkable leaping save to tip it over the bar:
Chile had already sewn up South America's place at next summer's FIFA Confederations Cup by virtue of winning last year's Copa America.