Sunday, 5 July 2015

Reds In Copa America

Di Maria injured and Rojo also on the losing side as Henriquez's Chile win Copa America

 

Angel Di Maria was injured and Marcos Rojo was also on the receiving end of a shock result in the Copa America final - but there was joy for fellow Manchester United player Angelo Henriquez who featured for the winning team Chile.
Di Maria and Rojo both started for Argentina who were strong favourites to win Saturday night's showpiece, especially after their powerful 6-1 semi-final win over Paraguay. But their opponents, for whom Henriquez was named as a substitute, had the backing of the home crowd in Santiago and they made life difficult for the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. In fact, neither side could muster a goal in two hours of tension and tenacity and so the destiny of the trophy had to be decided by a penalty shoot-out, won 4-1 by Chile with Alexis Sanchez smashing home the final spot-kick.
It was a tough evening on a personal level for United's Argentinian duo, with Di Maria's involvement being curtailed inside the first half-hour by an apparent hamstring injury and Rojo becoming the first Argentina player to be booked. The Reds defender was shown the yellow card in a frenetic spell after the interval when Chile, sparked by Arsenal star Sanchez, came flying out of the traps. Rojo's misdemeanour was a foul on Mauricio Isla, another livewire in the hosts' ranks.
Di Maria had been on the receiving end of some crunching Chilean challenges prior to his enforced substitution and one of them earned Franciso Silva the first of the contest's seven cautions. But United's club record signing was not in contact with an opponent when he went down injured - hence the layman's sideline diagnosis of a strained hamstring.
The man who came on for Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi, spurned a great chance to break the deadlock in first-half injury time when, from a pull-back by his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Javier Pastore, he fired straight at Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. The same shot-stopper had the home fans shouting his name earlier in the half after he beat away a flicked header
from Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, teed up by Messi's teasing cross.
Messi was also involved when Argentina went agonisingly close to snatching the trophy in stoppage time at the end of the second period. The Barcelona superstar fed Lavezzi and when the latter squared the ball across goal, Gonzalo Higuain - a 74th-minute replacement for Aguero - missed the target and with it an opportunity to be a national hero.
With the score still locked at 0-0, the game entered extra-time, no doubt prompting Argentina fans to think of the same scenario two years ago in the 2014 World Cup final - on that occasion, Di Maria, Rojo, Messi and co were, of course, undone by a solitary goal scored by Germany's Mario Goetze towards the end of the additional half-hour.
The first pair of fresh legs for extra-time belonged to United striker Henriquez, who has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Reds and spent all of last season on loan to Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. Within minutes of replacing Eduardo Vargas, Henriquez almost had an assist but Marcelo Diaz fired high and wide. On another occasion, the United player used his superior energy to break beyond Argentina's tiring defence - all of whom had played the full match - but he was flagged offside.
Chile took and scored the first penalty of the shoot-out through Matias Fernandez before Messi for Argentina and Arturo Vidal for the hosts also converted. Higuain's miss and Charles Aranguiz's hit then gave the Chileans a two-goal advantage and when Bravo saved Banega's tame effort, it gave Sanchez the chance to wrap up the shock victory which he accomplished with great aplomb

 

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