Francisco Silva’s penalty kick sealed the Copa America Centenario championship for Chile with their 4-2 win on penalties following a 0-0 draw against rival Argentina Sunday night in a dramatic Final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Chile, FIFA’s fifth-ranked national team, defended its 2015 Copa America title, also won on penalties over Argentina. La Albiceleste is still seeking its first major tournament title since 1993.
After Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo stopped Lucas Biglia’s shot in the fourth round of the shootout, Chile needed only to make their fifth try to win, and Silva buried it as La Roja outscored Argentina 4-2 in the shootout. Silva’s winner came moments after Argentina superstar Lionel Messi shockingly missed over the goal.
The contentious finale of the tournament saw 35 fouls called with eight yellow cards and two red cards issued, the first red to Marcelo Diaz of Chile in the 28th minute after he collided with Messi. Consequently, Chile played with 10 men. But only for 15 minutes.
Messi was fouled several times as Chile were physical in marking the diminutive forward, and even he was shown yellow for embellishment in the 40th minute.
In the 43rd minute, the sides were evened at 10 when Argentina’s Marcos Rojo drew a straight red card for a hard tackle on Vidal. It marked the third time that players from both teams were sent off in a Copa America Final.
Before all of that drama, Argentina missed an excellent chance to take an early lead. Chile’s Gary Medel lost control of the ball deep in his team’s side of the field, and Gonzalo Higuain made a run with only the goalkeeper to beat. Higuain’s 21st minute shot trickled just wide left of the goal with Medel laying out against the post to keep the ball out of the net.
Things quieted down in the second half as far as scoring chances and whistles, but Argentina missed in the 84th minute when Messi found Sergio Aguero on the flank and Aguero skied his open shot well over the goal.
Messi missed high on a counter attack early in stoppage time and the game went to an additional 30 minutes.
Romero saved an Eduardo Vargas header in the 99th minute, then Bravo barely tipped away Aguero’s high header in the 100th.
The crowd of 82,026 was the largest to ever see a soccer match in the state of New Jersey.
Vargas didn’t score Sunday, but took the Powerade Golden Boot as leader for the tournament in goals with six. Chile’s Alexis Sanchez was awarded the MasterCard Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, while Bravo won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper for the second straight tournament.