Lionel Messi scored a fantastic freekick against Chile on Monday, but Argentina could not hold on to the lead as the match eventually ended in a 1-1 draw on Matchday 1 of the Copa America group stage.
Messi scored the 57th freekick of his career in the 33rd minute of the match, after finding the top right corner of Claudio Bravo's goal. It was a signature Messi stunner, and the Argentina captain looked to be on course to lead his team to a positive start in their Copa America campaign.
However, Chile had other ideas. They came back strong in the second half to deny Messi and his compatriots the victory. Eduardo Vargas launched an attack that was effectively blocked by Argentine keeper Emiliano Martinez. However, former FC Barcelona player Arturo Vidal went for the rebound and was fouled in the process.
Vidal won a penalty for his efforts after a VAR consultation. He stepped up to the spot and was denied by Martinez. However, Vargas had lightning-quick reflexes and managed to head in from the rebound.
Argentina looked like the stronger team overall, with 18 shots against Chile's five. Bravo literally saved the day for Chile, but Argentina will not be happy to start the campaign with a draw.
"This match got complicated to us,. We needed to be calm, have the control of the possession and play more quickly. The penalty changed the match, too," said Messi after match, as quoted by Marca. The Argentina captain looked visibly winded after the match, and it remains to be seen how well he can keep the motivation up if the results don't start coming.
Before the Copa America started, Argentina also failed to win against Colombia, only managing a 2-2 draw in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Before that, they also drew 1-1 against Chile. In other words, Argentina has only managed to come away with draws so far this summer.
Things will not become easier, as they are scheduled to face Uruguay on Friday. They will need morale to stay high or risk coming in with a deflated and unmotivated squad against Paraguay and Bolivia in Group A.
It is still very early in the tournament and anything can still happen. Argentina needs to stay calm and focused before the tournament spirals out of their reach.