Messi & Co avenge Copa America defeat with 2-1 win over Chileans in Santiago
Santiago: Argentina avenged their Copa America defeat to Chile in Santiago on Thursday, defeating the South American champions 2-1 to clinch a crucial victory in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Double the joy: Argentina’s mercurial striker Lionel Messi celebrates his team’s second goal, scored by teammate Gabriel Mercado, during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Chile at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile on Thursday night. Pic/AP, PTI
Goals from PSG star Angel Di Maria and defender Gabriel Mercado secured a vital three points for Argentina after Chile took the lead through Felipe Gutierrez after only 11 minutes at the National Stadium.
Victory was sweet for Argentina, who were beaten on penalties by Chile at the same venue in the final of last year’s Copa America.
More importantly, the win got Argentina’s 2018 qualification bid firmly back on the road after a shaky start last year which saw them win only one of their opening four games. Argentina, missing defensive midfield linchpin Javier Mascherano, appeared to be all at sea in the opening 20 minutes as Chile swept forward relentlessly, creating chances at will.
The Chilean pressure got its reward after 11 minutes, Gutierrez punishing non-existent Argentine marking to meet a Gonzalo Jara corner with a powerful header.
However, Argentina’s stellar front three of Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi ensured they were back level on 20 minutes.
A superb through ball from Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori began the move which ended in a goal when Di Maria exchanged passes with Ever Banega and curled home a rare right-footed strike past Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Five minutes later the visitors took the lead. Di Maria lofted one into the Chilean penalty area and Nicolas Otamendi’s knock-down saw Messi hold off Chile defender Mauricio Isla to square for Mercado, who hooked home a volley for 2-1.
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