There’s nothing quite like a last-minute victory, that sweet taste of snatching glory from the jaws of a tasteless 0-0 draw. Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile wasn’t just a win; it was a statement. It wasn’t about revenge for what happened eight years ago in this same stadium against this very opponent. This was about a cycle of joy, a consistent delivery of excitement with the dream of a double championship shining brightly on the horizon.

The 1-0 score doesn’t tell the whole story. It fails to capture the Scaloneta’s hunger, their dominance, and the two brilliant saves by Dibu Martínez that kept them in control. This team has rediscovered its appetite for ball control, displaying clear superiority over Chile. Now, with a quarter-final spot secured, they’ll face Peru, knowing a draw will see them advance as the top team in their group. This might give Lionel Messi a chance to rest, having played much of the match while injured.

Argentina showed the physical tenacity and possession that were sorely missing against Canada. They snapped up the ball like a Formula 1 pit crew changing tires, suffocating Chile and reclaiming possession in midfield with positioning and synchronized running that left their opponents no time to think. The first half lacked only one thing: finishing. The Scaloneta stamped their authority on the game, unlike their debut match where control slipped away too often. Dibu Martínez was mostly a spectator, involved only with his feet.

Even when Messi started massaging his adductor, the team didn’t panic. Without their number 10, they nearly scored through a shot from Rodrigo De Paul. Chile tried but achieved little, not because of their deficiencies, but because Argentina overwhelmed them. Gareca’s 4-2-3-1 formation almost turned into a 4-4-1-1, with Alexis Sánchez trying to make his mark. Meanwhile, Argentina shifted fluidly between a 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, depending on Nico González’s position. González had a strong first half, marred only by a missed opportunity.

Argentina’s persistent push: Overcoming Chile’s defensive wall

Argentina maintained control, or almost always. The second half mirrored the first, especially in the first 25 minutes. It was a monologue of touches, patience, and triangulations, but Claudio Bravo, the oldest goalkeeper in Copa Americahistory at 41, turned into a hero. He first saved a rocket from Nahuel Molina and then denied Nico González with the help of the crossbar.

The team seemed to feel the impact of having everything but achieving nothing. They lost concentration, and González’s exit weakened the left side. Gareca exploited this, leading to two tremendous shots by Rodrigo Echeverría, which, if not for the brilliant Dibu Martínez, would have ended the night differently.

La locura de la afición argentina llega a Times Square

But the goalkeeper revived the team. Scaloni made changes from the bench. Angel Di María and Lautaro Martinez took time to sync, but when they did… The team kept pushing until the end. It seemed it wasn’t their night when Bravo denied Messi’s Olympic goal, but in the replay of another corner, came that scrappy goal. Lautaro pounced on the rebound to score, keeping the positive aura of this group that wants to make more history.

The current world champions will conclude their group stage participation against Peru on Saturday at 5:00 pm PST at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. And if tonight’s victory is anything to go by, the best is yet to come.

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