LIONEL MESSI hit his 57th career free-kick in a 1-1 draw for Argentina in their opening Copa America tie against Chile.
A 33rd-minute stunner in Rio de Janeiro meant the Barcelona icon overtook Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick total, although it could only earn a point in the Group B match-up.
The Albiceleste extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches but the same scoreline from their previous meeting with Chile, only ten days earlier, meant a third consecutive draw.
Lionel Scaloni’s men opened the scoring thanks to the screamer by Messi, who sent the ball into Claudio Bravo’s top-left corner.
It was Messi’s second goal in three international matches and took the striker’s tally to 73 in 145 caps.
But Martin Lasarte’s Chile equalised in the second-half when Nicolas Tagliafico fouled Arturo Vidal inside the box after 57 minutes.
The referee consulted VAR before pointing to the spot, from which Vidal failed to beat Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
But Eduardo Vargas quickly leapt on the rebound to head the ball into an open net.
Argentina had demanded a penalty for a handball by Vidal before Vargas’ goal but VAR waved away their claims.
The Albiceleste missed a raft of opportunities and paid for it, just like they did in their last World Cup qualifier against Chile almost two weeks ago.
Lionel Messi’s sweetly-hit free-kick put Argentina aheadCredit: Reuters
Eduardo Vargas was on hand to seal a point for ChileCredit: Reuters
Lautaro Martinez failed to beat Bravo twice in each half while Nicolas Gonzalez threw away three big chances.
It was an impressive result for Chile, who were missing record goalscorer Alexis Sanchez.
Former Arsenal and Manchester United star Sanchez suffered a foot injury during training and has been ruled out for the whole group stage.
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