Chile retains Copa America with shoot-out win over Argentina

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TURNING POINT: Argentina's Lionel Messi misses his shot during penalty kicks in the Copa America Centenario championship soccer match, Sunday. (AP)
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WELL-DESERVED: Chile's players with the trophy after winning the Copa America Centenario final by defeating Argentina in the penalty shoot-out in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States, on Sunday night. (AFP)
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ECSTATIC: Chile's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Copa America Centenario final by defeating Argentina in the penalty shoot-out in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sunday night. (AFP)
Updated 27 June 2016

Chile retains Copa America with shoot-out win over Argentina

EAST RUTHERFORD, United States: Holders Chile stunned Argentina to win the Copa America Centenario in a 4-2 penalty shoot-out following a 0-0 tie Sunday night as Lionel Messi’s title curse struck again.
Messi blazed a penalty over the bar in the shoot-out before Lucas Biglia missed to leave Chile’s Francisco Silva with the task of stroking home the winning spot-kick at the MetLife Stadium.
It was a carbon copy of last year’s Copa America final, also won by Chile on penalties after a goalless draw.
Argentina’s players meanwhile were left disconsolate as they digested a third defeat in a major final following losses to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and Chile in last year’s Copa.
The defeat also ensured Argentina’s 23-year wait for a major title — and a first for five-time world player of the year Messi — continued.
The final had gone to penalties after finishing deadlocked at 0-0 after 120 minutes.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men in the first half as Brazilian referee Heber Lopes struggled to get a grip on an ill-tempered contest played in front of a crowd of 82,026.
The first yellow card of the match came in the 16th minute when Marcelo Diaz brought down Messi with a cynical hack across the thighs as the Barcelona star advanced on the Chilean goal.
Argentina should have taken the lead on 21 minutes when a defensive blunder from Gary Medel, miscontrolling a back pass, allowed Gonzalo Higuain to go clean through on goal.
Higuain had time and space but opted to lift his shot over the advancing Bravo and it rolled wide of the post in a huge let-off for Chile.
It was a nightmarish case of deja vu for Higuain, who missed potentially match winning chances in both the 2014 World Cup final and last year’s Copa America.
Seven minutes later Chile were left rocking when Messi burst forward only to be bodychecked blatantly by Diaz.
For a moment it appeared that referee Lopes had forgotten Diaz’s earlier caution but eventually he brandished a red card and Chile were down to 10.
It ought to have been a warning to both sides but the spiteful tone continued for the remainder of the half, with Javier Mascherano and Arturo Vidal next into the book in the 37th minute.
The next flare-up came on 40 minutes when Messi darted into the box at high speed and tumbled over following a collision with Jose Pedro Fuenzalida.
Chile’s players surrounded Lopes demanding a yellow card for a dive and Messi was duly booked even though it looked for all the world as if he had simply gone down after being caught off balance.
Two minutes from half time and Lopes was reaching for a red card, this time sending off Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo for a rough tackle on Vidal.
The cards continued in a fractious start to the second half, Jean Beausejour booked for hacking at Gabriel Mercado.
A cynical foul on Messi by Charles Aranguiz resulted in another yellow card.
The introduction of Sergio Aguero for Higuain had little effect with Argentina failing to break the stalemate.
Chile striker Eduardo Vargas went close on the 80th minute, thumping a fierce low shot that Romero did well to block at his near post.
Aguero had a chance to steal victory in the 84th minute when he was worked into space on the right of the box but he blazed his shot high and wide.
There was still time for late drama when Ramiro Funes-Mori made a stunning match-saving block to deny Alexis Sanchez.
From the Argentinian counter-attack, Messi surged forward from halfway to shoot wide.
Amid suffocating tension in extra-time, Chile had the best early chance to score in the 98th minute when he headed Edson Puch’s cross only to be denied by Romero.
Aguero then drew a fine save from Bravo with a looping header.
After that there was little in the way of chances, leaving the game to hinge on the penalty shoot-out.


Australian Open: Alexander Zverev sweeps past Stan Wawrinka to make first Grand Slam semis

Updated 29 January 2020

Australian Open: Alexander Zverev sweeps past Stan Wawrinka to make first Grand Slam semis

  • The seventh seed was thumped in the first set but recovered to grind down the 2014 champion
  • Zverev fired 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent

MELBOURNE: German young gun Alexander Zverev stormed into his first Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday, rallying from a set down to shatter the dreams of veteran Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.
The seventh seed was thumped in the first set but recovered to grind down the 2014 champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in hot sun on Rod Laver Arena.
He will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last four, with a final beckoning against Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.
“It feels awesome,” said Zverev who has been donating $10,000 for each win at Melbourne Park to Australian bushfire relief, and will even hand over the A$4.12 million ($2.78 million) winner’s cheque if he clinches the title.
“I’ve done well at other tournaments and in other matches but could never break that barrier in Grand Slams. You can’t imagine what this means to me.
“I hope it will be the first of many.”
Big things have been tipped for Zverev since he burst into the top 10 in 2017, but until now the 22-year-old has not fully delivered, slipping down the rankings last year to seven from four at the start of the season.
But after a poor build-up to the year’s opening Major at the ATP Cup, where he lost all three matches, he worked hard on the practice court and has been in fine touch to finally make a Grand Slam last four at his 19th attempt.
His serve, a key focus of his extended practices, was a weapon once again against 34-year-old three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka.
He fired 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent.
It was Wawrinka who came out of the blocks firing, putting immediate pressure on the Zverev serve, getting his returns back to break straight away when the German netted a half-volley.
Zverev won just four points in the opening three games as he struggled to get the measure of Wawrinka, and he was broken again when he shanked a forehand high into the crowd.
The German finally held to get himself on the scoreboard but the Swiss was moving and serving well, unleashing some crunching groundstrokes to take the set in just 24 minutes.
Zverev needed to hold his opening serve in the second set to halt the Wawrinka juggernaut and he rose to the occasion, with his court coverage and groundstrokes raising a level.
It went with serve until game eight when Wawrinka drilled a forehand into the net and Zverev screamed ‘C’mon’ after his first break of the match, serving out for the set.
A resurgent Zverev rammed home his advantage with an early break in the third set before the wily Swiss hit back. But a poorly executed drop shot again handed the 22-year-old another break and he raced to a two sets to one lead.
Wawrinka, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Melbourne final, was out of fight and Zverev had him dancing to his tune as he raced to victory, ending the popular Swiss star’s bid for a first Slam semi since Roland Garros in 2017.