Chile won the Copa America for the first time in its history after a dramatic penalty shootout against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final in Santiago Saturday.
Messi was the only Argentine to convert his kick, but Chile was successful with all its four, the clinching effort from Alexis Sanchez sparking wild scenes of celebration in the Estadio Nacional.
A tight match had ended goalless after extra time, paving the way for the spot kicks where the host excelled.
Argentina was seeking its first major trophy in 22 years but after Messi scored with his penalty, a Gonzalo Higuain effort was blazed over the bar and Ever Banega was denied by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
It left the way clear for Arsenal’s Alexis to seal the victory with an audacious effort and extend Messi and Argentina’s title drought after losing the World Cup final last year to Germany.
Barcelona star Messi was unable to exert the influence he had in the semifinal when he played a part in five of Argentina’s six goals against Paraguay.
Sanchez had the best chances for Chile in normal and extra time, while Higuain came close for Argentina in the final minute of extra time.
Chile had previously lost four Copa America finals, the last 28 years ago, and went out of the 2014 World Cup at the last 16 stage to Brazil on penalties, but made no mistake this time.
Chile’s Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli said his team’s triumph was fully deserved against a team packed with talent.
“We had to play a great game against one of the world’s best teams for the quality of players,” he told gathered reporters.
“We should have won in 90 minutes, but ended up getting justice in a shootout.”
His Argentine counterpart Gerardo Martino took a different view as his team came to terms with losing another major final.
“Over the 120 minutes, it was a fairly equal game. But Argentina should have won.
“We tried everything. We had chances – Nico Otamendi, ‘Pocho’ Lavezzi and of course Higuain at the end,” he said.