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MESSI SCORES STUNNER BUT CHILE HOLD ARGENTINA TO DRAW

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi scored a stunning free kick, but Chile hit back to earn a 1-1 draw in the Copa America on Monday.

Messi’s magical left foot gave dominant Argentina a deserved first half lead, but Eduardo Vargas equalized in the second half after Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved veteran midfielder Arturo Vidal’s penalty.

Before the Group B game started in the Nelson Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro, there was a tribute to Argentina legend Diego Maradona, although the ground was empty due to coronavirus restrictions.

The first chance fell to Messi eight minutes in as Leandro Paredes picked out Nicolas Tagliafico on the left, and the fullback nodded the ball down for his captain, who sent a volley wide.

Minutes later, Giovani Lo Celso crossed from the left, but a sliding Lautaro Martinez could only spoon the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Argentina were in total command, and Lo Celso picked out Nicolas Gonzalez to shoot from 20 yards, but goalkeeper Claudio Bravo got down well to his right to tip the ball around the post.

From Messi’s corner, Gonzalez headed over the bar, and moments later, he was released by Lo Celos but shot straight at Bravo.

It would be a frustrating night for Gonzalez.

Argentina got the goal their domination deserved 33 minutes in, and inevitably, it was Messi who scored, curling a free kick from 25 yards out just beyond Bravo’s dive.

They should have had a second soon afterward, but teed up by Gonzalo Montiel 10 yards out, Martinez screwed his shot horribly wide.

Chile started the second half with more intent, and Erick Pulgar played Vargas into the area, but his shot on the stretch was saved by Martinez.

However, Vidal stormed in to try to fire home the rebound and was caught by Tagliafico as he shot.

Referee Wilmar Roldan consulted VAR and then awarded a penalty.

Martinez tipped Vidal’s effort onto the crossbar, but Vargas was quickest to the ball to head home the equalizer.

Argentina were soon back on the attack, but Chile center-back Gary Medel blocked a volley from Gonzalez, who later headed over from a Messi free kick.

Twenty minutes from time, Messi created space in the box, but Bravo was down well to save his low shot.

Gonzalez’s night to forget would get worse 10 minutes from time when he ran onto a perfect chipped pass from Messi but headed over from just seven yards out when it looked easier to score.

It was his last involvement, as he was substituted before Bravo took the goal kick.

Argentina kept pushing, but Messi headed over the bar in injury time as Chile held on for a point.