Santa Clara (California), June 7 (IANS) Argentina took control with two second-half goals to defeat rival Chile 2-1 in a marquee football match-up of two world powers.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Angel Di Maria scored in the 54th minute and Ever Banega was credited with his team’s second goal five minutes later here on Monday.
Argentina, a 14-time Copa America champions and the world’s top-ranked football team going into this year’s tournament, played without superstar Lionel Messi, who was on the bench but did not enter the match.
Di Maria’s goal came off a pass from Banega, who’d intercepted a pass and dribbled up-field before the assist. Banega gave Argentina a cushion when his shot was slightly re-directed by Chile defender Mauricio Isla and past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Chile, last year’s Copa America champion on their home soil, entered the match as the fifth-ranked national team. They cut the lead in half on Jose Pedro Fuenzalida’s goal just before the final whistle, but ran out of time.
The two teams played to a scoreless draw in the first half, but both had chances to score.
Marcos Rojo missed a header wide in the 23rd minute for Argentina, and Chile’s Alexis Sanchez had his shot saved by Sergio Romero in the 30th minute and a free kick stopped in the 34th.
Group D action continues Friday when Argentina faces co-leader Panama in Chicago and Chile plays Bolivia in Foxborough.