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Copa America: Chile hold Argentina

11:29 PM Jun 15, 2021 | PTI

Rio de Janeiro: Lionel Messi scored a stunning free kick, repeatedly dribbled through the Chilean defense and created opportunities regularly for his Argentina teammates.

Despite Messi's intense performance, Argentina was held 1-1 by Chile in its Copa America opener. The game at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro was also marked by a tribute to Argentine football great Diego Maradona, who died in November at age 60.

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Messi, who turns 34 this month, might have one of his final chances of winning a title with Argentina at the Copa America.

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He said ahead of opening game that winning with his national team is the biggest dream of his decorated career, despite all the individual success and club titles with Barcelona.

Argentina appeared to be ready to start giving Messi what he craves. Coach Lionel Scaloni's lineup wasted three clear opportunities between the 16th and 18th minutes, one from Lautaro Martinez and two for Nicolas Gonzalez.

And then Messi opened the scoring in the 33rd after a free kick that Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo couldn't stop despite getting a touch on the ball to his left. Argentina continued to pressure Chile, which was missing injured striker Alexis Sanchez.

But Chile transformed into a more attacking team in the second half and earned a penalty after video review. Arturo Vidal's shot from the spot was stopped, but Eduardo Vargas nodded into the empty goal to level the scoring in the 57th.

Messi continued to create opportunities until the end of the match, but his teammates showed the same difficulty to deliver goals as they did in the 2-2 draw at Colombia in a World Cup qualifier in Barranquilla last week.

Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in their previous Copa America encounter two years ago, in a game that ended with Messi being sent off after a disagreement with defender Gary Medel.

Paraguay leads group A after a 3-1 win over Bolivia at the Olimpico stadium in Goiania. Bolivia scored first via Erwin Saavedra's first-half penalty, but Paraguay changed its fortunes after the break with goals by Alejandro Romero and a brace by Ángel Romero.

Argentina's next match is against Uruguay on Friday. Chile will face Bolivia on the same day. Paraguay returns to action next Monday against Messi's team.

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