Claudio Bravo’s Chile are Copa América champions for the first time in their history following victory over Argentina in a penalty shoot out in the final played in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. The Barça keeper and Chile captain was the hero in game that ended goalless after 120 minutes of football, saving Éver Banega’s penalty to give former blaugrana Alexis Sánchez the chance to nervelessly score the decisive spot kick for a 4-1 win on penalties. Leo Messi was the only man who found the net for ‘Tata’ Martino’s team in the shoot out andJavier Mascherano also played all 120 minutes for the ‘albiceleste’. Disappointment for Barça’s two Argentines but delight for Bravo who adds the title to the treble of the league, Champions League and the Spanish Cup won in 2014/15 with FC Barcelona.
Loss of Di María early on
In only their third ever Copa América final and their first since 1987, Chile started the better of the two sides in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. The first real chance of the final fell to tournament top scorer Vargas after 10 minutes, the hosts’ striker dragging his side shot wide from the edge of the box. Barça keeper Claudio Bravo was not called into action until the 21st minute when he made a smart save from close range to deny ‘Kun’ Agüero. The Manchester City striker’s header came from a Leo Messi free kick on the right hand side. Argentina were dealt a blow just a few minutes later when Ángel Di María was forced off due to a hamstring injury to be replaced by Paris Saint-Germain striker Lavezzi. The substitute could have given his side the lead just before the break had he not hit his effort straight at keeper Bravo. Just seconds previously, Chile also had a chance to take a half time lead, Alexis denied by a save from Romero. The opening 45 minutes came to an end with the sides locked together at 0-0.
Extra time then penalties
In the second half Chile continued to have the better of the game, yet at the same time chances were still few and far between. The contest was very tight in midfield, Chile doing their best to keep Leo Messi quiet. Mascherano picked up a yellow card ten minutes into the restart for handball with ‘Tata’ Martino’s side suffering without the pace of Di María. What chances there were tended to fall to the hosts – Vargas did not really get hold of his effort on 73 minutes, Romero making a simple save. Former Barça striker Alexis had a better chance, volleying just wide with eight minutes of normal time remaining. Messi led a late counter that saw substitue Higuaín with a chance to win it for Argentina in injury time but his effort went into the side netting and so the final headed into extra time. A nervous extra half hour failed to separate the sides and so the 2015 Copa América was decided on penalties in favour of Chile.