Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez has been named as winner of the Copa America Centenario Golden Ball award after helping Chile to retain the title with another victory over Argentina on Sunday night (26 June). Juan Antonio Pizzi's side, who lost to the Albiceleste in the group phase before beating Bolivia, Panama, Mexico and Colombia en route to the tournament showpiece at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, went down to 10 men shortly before the half-hour mark when Marcelo Diaz was sent off for two bookable offences.
Argentina forfeited their numerical advantage when much-maligned Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo harshly received his marching orders for a contentious tackle on Arturo Vidal in which he appeared to win the ball. Gonzalo Higuain had earlier missed the best chance of the match when he capitalised on a mistake to race through on goal but drove the ball wide.
Goalless after 120 minutes, the final went to a penalty shootout for the second year in a row. Vidal and Lionel Messi, both of whom were successful from 12 yards in 2015, surprisingly exchanged opening misses before Nicolas Castillo, Javier Mascherano, Charles Aranguiz, Sergio Aguero and Jean Beausejour all netted. The tie was eventually settled when Lazio's Lucas Biglia saw his effort saved by Claudio Bravo and Francisco Silva stepped up to successfully deliver the fatal blow.
Chile, whose victory on home soil under Jorge Sampaoli last year was their maiden Copa America triumph, cleaned up the post-tournament awards with Sanchez being named best player and former QPR loanee Eduardo Vargas winning the Golden Boot after his six-goal haul that included four in the devastating 7-0 destruction of Mexico at the last-eight stage. Man of the match in the final Bravo also earned Golden Glove honours for conceding only five times throughout the competition and not once during the latter stages.
The defeat marked Argentina's third in the final of a major competition in recent years, with Mario Gotze's extra-time winner for Germany sealing their defeat in the 2014 World Cup in neighbouring Brazil. An exasperated and crestfallen Messi, who was also part of the side that fell at the last hurdle at the 2007 Copa, signalled after that latest disappointment that he now intended to retire from international football aged only 29.