After falling to Chile in the 2015 Copa final, Argentina got the better of their South American neighbor on Monday, winning 2-1 in their opening match of Group D play.
Angel di Maria and Ever Banega had a goal and assist each as Argentina’s deadly counter-attack was on full display, even with Lionel Messi injured on the bench.
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The first half had a great pace to it, with both sides creating chances. Without Messi most of the Argentine attack went through Angel di Maria, who looked dangerous on the left wing throughout the match.
Argentina had more shots in the first half, but Chile had the best chance through Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. Arturo Vidal turned and played Sanchez through, but Manchester United’s Sergio Romero came up with a huge one-handed stop to keep the match scoreless.
The high intensity continued after the break, with the game turning in Argentina’s favor in a quick ten-minute span. Ever Banega led a counter from a Chilean turnover at midfield, playing Di Maria to his left. The PSG winger got a bit lucky with his shot, beating Claudio Bravo low and to his near post to open the scoring for Argentina in the 51st minute.
Things got worse for Chile just minutes later as Eugenio Mena pulled up with what looked to be a hamstring injury, which could rule out the left-back for the remainder of the tournament.
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Then in the 59th minute it was the same duo again, this time Di Maria assisting to Banega. Another quick break led to the goal, with Banega’s shot taking a big deflection to slide in past Bravo.
Chile would pull one back deep into stoppage time as Jose Fuenzalida headed in a free kick with the last touch of the ball.
Without Messi, Argentina put in a convincing performance against the defending Copa champions. Already favorites to win the title, Argentina remain the team to beat.