One week before the start of the 2021 Copa América, Lionel Messi and Argentina took the field in Santiago del Estero to face off against Chile in World Cup Qualifiers action, and the Barcelona superstar came very close to a perfect night but ultimately couldn’t lead his team to a win at home.
Messi put Argentina ahead after Lautaro Martínez was brought down by Maripán inside the box, and the captain calmly sent Claudio Bravo the wrong way and passed the ball home from the spot:
Chile equalized 15 minutes later through Alexis Sánchez, and then Messi had two massive opportunities to put his nation ahead. The first came right before halftime with a free-kick, and Leo placed it perfectly in the top corner only for Claudio Bravo to appear out of nowhere and make an amazing save:
45' ¡INMENSO BRAVO! El guardameta tapó el tiro libre de Messi @Argentina 1 - 1 @LaRoja #LaRojaxTNTSports— TNT Sports Chile (@TNTSportsCL) June 4, 2021
Recuerda ÚLTIMA OPORTUNIDAD Solo hasta hoy https://t.co/Qfs0cOT7zh por 3 lucas ⚽ Extendimos la promoción de #CyberEstadio https://t.co/yKJprXlYbe pic.twitter.com/NnMtGSPoJd
The second half was an intense back and forth but there weren’t many chances for either side, but Messi had another free-kick in a great position with 10 minutes to go. This time he gave Bravo no chance and once again aimed for the top corner, but could only hit the crossbar:
80' ¡Se salvó @LaRoja! Tiro libre de Messi que da en el palo @Argentina 1 - 1 @LaRoja #LaRojaxTNTSports— TNT Sports Chile (@TNTSportsCL) June 4, 2021
Recuerda ÚLTIMA OPORTUNIDAD Solo hasta hoy https://t.co/Qfs0cOT7zh por 3 lucas ⚽ Extendimos la promoción de #CyberEstadio https://t.co/yKJprXlYbe pic.twitter.com/f6jjePqcZW
Despite the 1-1 draw at home, Argentina remain unbeaten in five qualifying matches so far and sit in second place behind leaders Brazil. Messi and Co. play another tough Qualifier on the road against Colombia next Tuesday, and then meet Chile again in the Copa América opener.
Messi was the best player on the pitch on Thursday night and should have had a hat-trick, but as is often the case when he plays with Argentina, the International Football Gods don’t seem to like him very much.