Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Copa America

Tearful Di Maria inspires Argentina at Copa

Argentina's Angel Di Maria (R) controls the ball during their Copa America Centenario match against Chile, in Santa Clara, California, on June 6, 2016 (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson).

Argentina’s Angel Di Maria (R) controls the ball during their Copa America Centenario match against Chile, in Santa Clara, California, on June 6, 2016 (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson).

SANTA CLARA, United States, June 7 – A grieving Angel Di Maria was the inspiration as Argentina shrugged off the absence of Lionel Messi to defeat holders Chile 2-1 in their opening Copa America Centenario game here Monday.

Paris Saint-Germain star Di Maria — reeling from the death of his grandmother only hours earlier — scored one goal and set up another as the two-time world champions avenged their defeat to Chile in last year’s Copa America final.

Di Maria opened the scoring on 51 minutes and emotionally held a T-shirt up to the sky emblazoned with the message: “Grandma, I will miss you so much.”

Moments later Di Maria then set up Argentina’s second for Ever Banega, to complete a man-of-the-match performance.

“I had to play, I wanted to play, my grandmother was so proud that I played for the national team,” Di Maria said during a post-match television interview before breaking down in tears.

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino revealed afterwards Di Maria had kept his loss a secret from him.

“I just learned that five minutes ago that his grandmother died,” Martino said. “He didn’t tell me anything, he was feeling well to play.”

Di Maria’s virtuoso display secured a deserved three points for Argentina, who will now fancy their chances of topping Group D with games against Panama and Bolivia to come.

Chile substitute Jose Fuenzalida scored an injury time consolation for the holders.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Injured Argentina captain Messi watched from the substitutes’ bench at Levi’s Stadium after failing to recover in time from a sore back suffered in a friendly win over Honduras last month.

But the Barcelona superstar’s absence was barely noticeable, with Nicolas Gaitan slotting into Argentina’s attack and making an instant impression, hitting the woodwork with a header after only two minutes.

– Slick counter-attack –

Argentina dominated the early exchanges before Chile, fielding the core of their victorious Copa America side, gradually grew into the game.

Chile came closest to breaking the first half deadlock in the 30th minute, when Alexis Sanchez burst onto a layoff from Arturo Vidal to go in on goal.

The Arsenal forward picked his spot and shot low but Argentine keeper Sergio Romero was equal to the challenge, saving brilliantly to deny Chile.

Sanchez drew another save from Romero in a bright Chilean start to the second half but it was Argentina who opened the scoring six minutes after the break.

A swift counter-attack saw Banega release Di Maria, whose quick low shot flew past Claudio Bravo and into the bottom corner as the Chile goalkeeper struggled to get his body into position.

Eight minutes later it was 2-0, Di Maria turning creator this time with a deft pass to Banega whose low shot took a slight deflection off Mauricio Isla to deceive Bravo.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The game continued to have an edge with Di Maria and Gary Medel both receiving yellow cards for an off-the-ball scuffle shortly afterwards.

In injury time Fuenzalida grabbed a late consolation with a headed goal from a free-kick but it was too little too late.

Chile’s Argentina-born coach Juan Antonio Pizzi bemoaned mistakes which cost his team goals.

Twice Chile ceded possession cheaply in midfield, leading to Argentina’s two goals.

“The mistakes were crucial,” Pizzi said. “They cost us two goals.”

 

It was Chile’s third straight defeat — but Pizzi was bullish about his team’s chances of coming back.

“We believe we’re going to get into the next round,” he said. “I know we have difficult games ahead of us, but we’re going to continue working hard and we have belief to move to the next round.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Click to comment

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

More on Capital Sports

Football

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – There is light at the end of the tunnel. After failed promises over the last three years since its...

Athletics

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – Olympic Champion Caster Semenya and wife Violet Raseboya have hinted that they might be expecting a baby in a...

NFL

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Kenya’s history making Daniel Adongo, the first Kenyan to play in America’s National Football League (NFL), is now living...

Features

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – The Kakamega High School ‘Green Commandos’ have produced a plethora of talent over the past decades in Kenyan football...

© 2020 Capital Digital Media. Capital Group Limited. All Rights Reserved