Tuesday , July 23 2024

Argentina player ratings vs Chile: Supersub Lautaro Martinez rescues Lionel Messi and Co. to secure spot in Copa America knockouts

It’s been eight years since Argentina played Chile in this very building in this very tournament. On Tuesday night, the two South American heavyweights returned to MetLife Stadium outside of New York, the site of one of Lionel Messi’s biggest heartbreaks. On that night eight years ago, he temporarily retired from the national team. It was arguably his lowest low.

On Tuesday, though, Messi and Argentina exorcised whatever demons were left over from that 2016 World Cup. They’ve won the Copa America and World Cup since then but, make no mistake, this was still personal. Eight years after Messi’s biggest Copa America heartbreak, Argentina are marching through the tournament again behind a narrow win.

In front of more 81,000 fans, Argentina picked up their second win in as many group games, edging Chile 1-0 with a late goal. It wasn’t pretty in the slightest. It was physical, dirty and, at times, downright ugly. Argentina survived, though, as they have just about every time over the last three years.

Messi wasn’t the hero this time. That title goes to Lautaro Martinez, who came off the bench to bail out Argentina. Through 88 minutes, Argentina had failed to break down a resolute Chile team. The Chileans, though, couldn’t quite stop Martinez.

It required luck, the bounce of a corner kick to the Inter man on the backpost. But in a game with fine margins, that’s what it so often takes. Argentina didn’t always have that luck in past years, but the sure do now.

Next up is a group stage finale against Peru, but their spot in the knockouts is already assured. Their Copa America defense hasn’t been perfect, but their record has been. Messi and co. are onto the next one.

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