Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Chile 0-1 Argentina: Super sub Martinez sends La Albiceleste through to Copa America quarter-finals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 26 Jun 2024

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Lautaro Martinez struck a dramatic late winner as Argentina beat Chile 1-0 to secure their place in the Copa America knockout stages with a game to spare.

The reigning champions looked like they would have to settle for a point on a frustrating night at the MetLife Stadium, having failed to turn their superiority into the game’s opening goal.

But substitute Martinez, who also netted from the bench in his nation’s opener against Canada, finally broke Chile’s resolve when he lashed home two minutes from time.

It moved Lionel Scaloni’s side onto six points at the Group A summit – three points ahead of Canada, who beat Peru 1-0 earlier in the day – meaning a draw against Peru in their final game will be enough to secure top spot.

Argentina dominated the first half with 13 unanswered shots, yet just three of those were on target. One of them saw Julian Alvarez fire straight at Claudio Bravo from close range in the 22nd minute.

Lionel Messi also went close to scoring in the 36th minute. La Albiceleste’s skipper let fly with a fizzing 25-yard attempt that clipped the outside of Bravo’s left post, while Erick Pulgar almost turned Nahuel Molina’s cross beyond the Chile goalkeeper two minutes later.

La Roja had Bravo to thank for keeping Argentina at bay, as the reigning champions continued to carry the greater attacking threat after the break.

The veteran stopper beat away Molina’s fierce strike within five minutes of the restart, and just after the hour mark, he produced a superb reflex save to tip Nicolas Gonzalez’s drive onto the crossbar.

With the breakthrough still eluding the world champions, Scaloni bolstered his attack by introducing Angel Di Maria and Martinez for the final 17 minutes.

Chile had increased their own attacking threat by registering their first attempts on goal in the contest, with Rodrigo Echeverria calling Emiliano Martinez into action on both occasions.

Yet, there was to be a late twist in Argentina’s favour when an 88th-minute corner broke kindly for Martinez, who reacted the quickest to fire into the roof of the net and send La Albiceleste through to the quarter-finals.

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