Argentina and Chile wrapped up the opening round of the Copa America Centenario group stage on Monday, with Argentina emerging as the 2-1 winner at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
It was a match-up worth the wait, as it turned out to be arguably the highest-quality game so far in the tournament. After an entertaining but scoreless first half, Argentina broke the game open six minutes after halftime. First, Ever Banega found a ball in the midfield, pushed forward on the attack and sent a pass to his left to Angel Di Maria, who finished at the near post.
Eight minutes later, the players traded roles, as Di Maria picked up a ball near the center circle, moved towards goal, and sent a pass to his left to Banega, whose shot got a slight deflection off Chile's Mauricio Isla to fool Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Chile notched a consolation goal deep in second-half stoppage time, as substitute Jose Fuenzalida headed a ball over the top past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero to make the final score 2-1.
- 51' - ARG - Angel Di Maria (Ever Banega)
- 59' - ARG - Ever Banega (Angel Di Maria)
- 93' - CHI - Jose Fuenzalida (Fabian Orellana)
- Full box score
NO MESSI, NO PROBLEM:
Lionel Messi did not feature in this game, after being questionable with a back injury heading into the Copa America. But the might of Argentina's squad, even against defending champion Chile, overcame his absence, and Banega deputized well as the central attacking midfielder. What does it mean moving forward? Argentina look like they can only get stronger -- a scary proposition for the rest of the field.
- ARG: Friday, June 10 vs. Panama (9:30 pm ET, FOX, UniMás, UDN)
- CHI: Friday, June 10 vs. Bolivia (7 pm ET, FOX, UniMás, UDN)