A Clash of Memories: Argentina Edges Past Chile to Secure Quarterfinal Spot

Scenes from Argentina vs Chile, MetLife Stadium (Image: Copa America)

Eight years ago, on June 27, Argentina faced Chile in the Copa America final at MetLife Stadium. After a goalless stalemate in 120 minutes, Chile lifted the trophy 4-2 on penalties. Lionel Messi missed his shot and announced his retirement from international football after the match. Fast forward to Wednesday, June 26, these two sides met again at the same stadium, houseful. Since that retirement, Messi came out of it, won the Copa America 2021, and the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the captain of his side.

Though the match seemed to be heading for another goalless draw, the Argentine number 22, Lautaro Martinez, scored the solitary goal from a corner movement, securing a place for his team in the quarterfinals. The Argentine goalkeeper also made crucial saves in the final quarter to keep his side in the game.


Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni fielded a squad with three changes: Nicolas Tagliafico, Enzo Fernandez, and Nico Gonzalez started in place of Acuna, Paredes, and Angel Di Maria, who were starters in the match against Canada. Chile made two changes from the Peru game: Rodrigo Echeverría replaced Marcelo Núñez, and Diego Osorio replaced Diego Valdés.

Chile had their intentions clear from the start, defending in numbers throughout the game and attempting a few counter-attacks that never reached the final third. The match was highly physical, but the referee was lenient, stopping the game on a few occasions and showing only two yellow cards.

From the outset, Argentina maintained an attacking momentum, while Chile employed their infamous ‘park the bus’ strategy. Every Argentine attack was met by ten outfield players, with Chile relying on counter-attacks. Chile’s first notable attack came in the 7th minute with a dangerous cross from their right flank, highlighting vulnerabilities in the Argentine left flank, visible in the Canada game a week earlier.


The first half followed a similar pattern, with Argentina dominating possession, switching flanks to find an opening and also making thrusts down the middle, only to be thwarted by Chile’s packed defence. Chile’s counter-attacks never truly threatened, and Emiliano Martinez was untested.

Messi was the man in the Chilean radar, as whenever he received the ball, he was swamped by two to three defenders, neutralising the threat. In the 22nd minute, Chile number 2, Sauvo, battered Messi with a late challenge and dumped him on the ground. The Argentine skipper had to take some quick massage treatment before getting onto the pitch again. The Argentine number 10 had a long ranger, but it kissed the outside of the side post. This was moreover the gameplay from both sides, only strangely enough, the referee seemed to have forgotten his whistle on multiple occasions. The half ended 0-0.


The second half began with both teams unchanged. Argentina’s attack appeared sharper, with a buildup play leading to Messi setting up Molina, whose powerful shot forced a save from Chile’s veteran goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo. Fresh legs were introduced in the 64th minute: Lo Celso replaced Enzo Fernandez, while Chile substituted Marcos Bolados for Alexis Sanchez.

By the 71st minute, Argentina had 17 shots to Chile’s zero, yet the scoreline remained unchanged. Chile’s first shot came in the 72nd minute from Echeverría, forcing a struggle for Emiliano Martinez to collect it. The match became livelier, with Chile having two more chances, both denied by Martinez.

Lionel Scaloni made two key substitutions in the 74th minute, bringing on Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria for Julian Alvarez and Nicolas Gonzalez. This move soon bore fruit.

Both the goalkeepers, Emiliano Martinez and Claudio Bravo had to make some important saves (Image: Copa America)

In an 81,000-strong MetLife Stadium, mostly in Argentine colours, memories from eight years ago lingered. Sheer agony on the faces of the Argentine supporters as the outnumbered Chilean supporters made all the noise. The tide turned when Messi tried his luck directly from a corner, and it was swirling in. Claudio Bravo lofted it into the top net. From the second corner in the same movement, the ball was not cleared properly and Lautaro Martinez was unmarked in the box. He made no mistake to slam it past Brazo. Multiple Argentine players were in the goal line during the movement, and hence VAR was checked for offside. But the goal stood. 88th minute, 1-0 Argentina!

Five minutes of injury time saw Chile desperately seeking an equaliser, leaving them vulnerable to a counter. Di Maria made a free run in a three vs two scenario. He crossed it low to Lautaro, but Bravo did justice to his name.

With this 1-0 win, Argentina topped the group with six points, securing a Quarterfinal spot. They will face Peru next, on 30th June, at 5:30 am IST.

The Goal: (Via: Copa America)


Chile XI: Bravo, Suazo, Diaz, Lichnovsky, Isla, Pulgar, Echeverria, Davila, Alexis Sanchez, Osorio, Vargas

Argentina XI: Emiliano Martinez, Tagliafico, Lisandro Martinez, Romero, Molina, Mac Allister, Enzo Fernadez, De Paul, Gonzalez, J. Alvarez, Lionel Messi