Argentina’s Lionel Messi-led team earned a point against a far more aggressively defensive Chilean team in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match that ended 1-1 at the Estadio nico de Santiago del Estero. While Argentina’s perfect streak against Chile at home continued, La Roja were content to grind out a point against a team that boasted one of the best players in history.
After a VAR judgement decided that Argentina’s Lautaro Martnez was, in fact, pulled down in the box by Chilean defender Guillermo Maripan, the scoring began from the penalty spot. Lionel Messi took charge right away, dispatching experienced goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to the forward’s aid.
The penalty was a game-changing goal for Chile, igniting a surge of enthusiasm that manifested itself in tougher fouls and more aggressive play. While it may not have pleased the officials, it was sufficient to put Argentina on the back foot, allowing Chile to increase pressure.
The visitors were awarded a free kick about thirty yards from goal as a result of the pressure. Gary Medel received a lobbed free kick after his momentum had carried him away from a reasonable opportunity at goal. Realizing this, the 33-year-old made a sliding back pass to fellow countryman Alexis Sanchez, who tucked the pass home in the 36th minute to equalise.
Chile’s physicality remained, and it stifled Messi, effectively muting Argentina’s offensive. The soon-to-be-ex-Barcelona winger had an opportunity with a free kick shortly after Chile’s equaliser just before halftime, but Bravo made a remarkable diving save towards the top corner of the net. Messi wasn’t able to reassert himself until the final 15 minutes of the game, but Bravo was there to deflect a long shot, a powerful strike from within the box off Messi’s magical left foot, and cause Messi to hit the post on another tight free kick attempt.
Apart from Messi’s efforts, Chile’s defence was effective in securing the team’s hard-fought point on Wednesday.