SÃO PAULO (AP) — For a match that didn’t mean much, there was a lot going on as Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 to finish third in the Copa América on Saturday.
Lionel Messi was sent off after getting involved in an altercation in a tense third-place game between the rivals from the last two finals of the South American competition,
Veteran Chile midfielder Gary Medel also was red carded after the first-half shoving match with Messi at the Arena Corinthians.
Sergio Agüero and Paulo Dybala scored early for Argentina, and Arturo Vidal put Chile on the board with a second-half penalty kick.
Chile had beaten Argentina in the final in 2015 and 2016, both times in penalty shootouts.
It was a heated match from the start in São Paulo, with many hard fouls from both sides and altercations involving several players.
None was bigger than the one sparked by the Messi-Medel confrontation that led to the red card for both players in the 37th minute.
It started when Medel wasn’t happy that Messi came in from behind to try to gain possession. The Chilean turned around to confront the Argentine star, who didn’t back down. They started to bump into each other with their chests and shoulders and Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar came in to immediately send both players off.
Messi had also received a straight red card in his national team debut with Argentina in a friendly against Hungary in 2005.
Argentina opened the scoring after Messi quickly took a free kick with a long through ball to Agüero, who went past goalkeeper Gabriel Arias before finding the net in the 12th minute. There was some complaint that the ball was rolling when Messi took the free kick that caught the Chilean defense by surprise.
Dybala added to the lead with a shot from inside the area in the 22nd, and Vidal gave Chile hope of a recovery by converting a penalty awarded by video review in the 59th.
Argentina, enduring a 26-year title drought with the senior team, was eliminated by Brazil in the semifinals. Chile lost to Peru.