Argentina 2, Chile 1 | Copa America Centenario Match Recap

Nicolas Gaitan - Argentina - close up

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.

Box Score

  • 51' - ARG - Angel Di Maria (Ever Banega)
  • 59' - ARG - Ever Banega (Angel Di Maria)
  • 93' - CHI - Jose Fuenzalida (Fabian Orellana)
  • Full box score
  • Stats

Three Things

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.

  • SILVER LINING FOR CHILE: Although Fuenzalida's goal came too late to impact this particular game, it could prove useful down the line, if Chile have to use goal difference to progress in the group. Perhaps the better news is that they have two more Group D games, against Bolivia and Panama, and will be heavily favored in both. This game may be a setback, but it's not game over by any means for the reigning champs.

  • DI MARIA'S TRIBUTE: Di Maria ran over to the sideline after his goal to pick up a T-shirt with a handwritten message, in tribute to his grandmother, who passed away recently. After the match, Di Maria tearfully said in an interview his grandmother "was everything to me."
  • Next Up

    • 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)