Monday, 27 June 2016

Lionel Messi calls it a day

In a repeat of last year’s final, Chile won the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the early hours of yesterday morning, beating Argentina 4-2 on penalties in New Jersey.

And the heartbreak was too much to take for Lionel Messi, who then announced his retirement from international football.

After 120 minutes without goals, the decider went to a penalty shoot-out. Despite missing their opening kick when Arturo Vidal saw his shot saved by Sergio Romero, Chile converted all of their remaining penalties and retain the Copa America trophy.

Messi blasted his penalty kick high over the bar, before Lucas Biglia saw his attempt well saved by Chile’s goalkeeper and Messi’s Barcelona team-mate, Claudio Bravo.

The match was bitty and somewhat violent, with few clear-cut chances and many cards.

Both sides were also reduced to 10 men in the first half, with Marcelo Diaz and Marcos Rojo seeing red for Chile and Argentina, respectively.

Sergio Aguero says he has never seen Messi as upset as he was after Argentina’s Copa America final defeat by Chile.

The world’s best player missed his spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out as La Albiceleste lost their third major final in three years.

Argentina were second best against Germany in the 2014 World Cup, against Chile in the 2015 Copa America and were beaten again by Alexis Sanchez and Co in New Jersey late on Sunday night.

The heartbroken Barcelona superstar was distraught on Sunday after missing a spot-kick as Chile snatched victory in a penalty shoot-out — Messi’s fourth straight defeat in a major final while representing Argentina.

“For me the national team is over,” the crestfallen 29-year-old told reporters.
“I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.

“It’s a hard moment for me and the team, and it’s difficult to say, but it’s over with the Argentina team.”

Manchester City star Aguero, who has played with Messi in the national team for a decade, said the Barcelona forward was at his lowest ebb after the final whistle.

“We are all s****y, we are trying to think about other things and continue on forward,” said Aguero.

“But it’s hard. Once again luck has gone against us.

“Unfortunately, the most broken one is Messi for his missed penalty. It is the worst I have ever seen him in the dressing rooms after a game.”

And indeed the frustration proved too much for Messi, who announced his retirement from international football.

“It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” Messi said. “In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me.

“That’s the way I feel right now, it’s a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important.

“I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it.” Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, however, said he still retained hope that Messi would change his mind. — AFP.

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