Argentina seal Copa America quarter-final spot


Argentina became the first side to book passage into the Copa America quarter-finals after a late strike from Lautaro Martinez earned them a 1-0 Group A victory over Chile.

The defending champions had to wait until the 88th minute for the winner. Giovani Lo Celso's shot was saved by Chile's Claudio Bravo after a Lionel Messi corner kick but Martinez was on hand to fire home the rebound.

The goal stood after a lengthy VAR review for offside.

Argentina top the group with six points after two matches, with Canada in second on three following their 1-0 win over Peru earlier on Tuesday. Chile and Peru have one point each.

"These matches are always like this, we have to continue in the same way, treating the matches in this way, as they are all going to be complicated," Martinez told TyC Sports.

"Everything was tight, they set up lines of five at times ... but we are happy that at the end of the day we ended up taking the three points, which is what we wanted to start with."

The loss extended Chile's winless streak against Argentina in the Copa America to 30 matches.

Chile have won the Copa twice but have never beaten Argentina in regulation time at the tournament, getting the better of them on penalties in the final of the 2015 and 2016 editions.

There was little to separate the two in a cautious opening spell at MetLife Stadium but once Argentina got going it quickly turned into a one-sided contest.

Julian Alvarez and Nicolas Gonzalez tested keeper Bravo with tame efforts, while Rodrigo de Paul smashed a swerving right-foot effort just over the crossbar.

Captain Messi, who played a role in both of Argentina's goals in their opening win over Canada, was once again at his brilliant best and nearly opened the scoring in the 36th minute with a powerful low drive that hit the post.

Argentina kept up the pressure in the second half and Alexis Mac Allister was unable to connect with a pin-point free kick from Messi to spurn a gilt-edged opportunity.

Rodrigo Echeverria recorded Chile's first shot of the match in the 72nd minute, a powerful strike from distance which was kept out by Emiliano Martinez.

The Argentine goalkeeper, who barely had anything to do for over an hour, found himself called into action twice more over the next few minutes, keeping out efforts from Echeverria and Marcelino Nunez.

Just as it looked like the 15-times Copa America champions would be made to rue their missed chances, substitute Martinez's goal ensured victory and a top-two spot in the group.

The defending champions had the chance to kill the game off in stoppage time with a two-on-one break but Martinez fired a close range shot straight at Bravo.

"We have a tough group, very evenly matched, we had chances to score," Bravo said. "The next opponent is going to be tough like these two we've had."

In the group's final fixtures on Saturday, Argentina play Peru in Miami while Chile take on Canada in Orlando.

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