EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Lionel Messi still awaits his first title with Argentina’s national team.
Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, Francisco Silva converted Chile’s shootout finale and La Roja won their second straight Copa America title by beating Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.
Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a penalty-kicks loss to host Chile in last year’s Copa America. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never taken a trophy with Argentina’s senior team.
For its 100th anniversary, South America’s championship was expanded to 16 nations and played in the United States, and Argentina was hoping to win its first major title since 1993.
In an ill-tempered match that included an ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the match was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the third straight final.
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, the best player of his generation and considered alongside Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Diego Maradona as the sport’s greatest ever. But in the minds of many, he needs a title with his nation to solidify that claim.
Messi sent his shot over Claudio Bravo — his Barcelona teammate — and into the stands. Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both fists in frustration.
Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.
Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right, saving Lucas Biglia’s shot and bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey of his face, as if not wanting to watch.
Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.
Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain’s armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back on the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi’s shoulders.
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