Varga back in Hungary 2 days after surgery on facial fractures following collision at Euro 2024

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey: Substitute Lautaro Martinez scored the winning goal in the 88th minute as Argentina finally beat Chile 1-0 to book its place in the Copa America quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi hit the post for Argentina in the first half, but the world champions had goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to thank for the equaliser before Lautaro’s last-minute strike settled a thrilling clash in front of 82,000 fans at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

The 15-time Copa America winners had plenty of opportunities to break through much earlier, but a combination of poor finishing and an outstanding performance from 41-year-old Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo meant that the score was not kept at 0-0.

The home of the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants – and host of the 2026 World Cup final – was transformed into Argentina’s home stadium and the expectant crowd saw Messi and Co. dictate proceedings from the early stages.

Messi’s strike partner Julian Alvarez forced Bravo into a save with a direct shot in the 22nd minute after Nicolas Gonzalez had pulled the ball back from the byline.

Chile did a good job of neutralising Messi and occasionally putting three players under pressure, but the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner came within inches of opening the scoring in the 36th minute when his shot from 25 yards out clipped the outside of the post.

Bravo made a good save at the near post from Nahuel Molina after the break and then produced a great reaction save to tip a fierce shot from Nicolas Gonzalez onto the crossbar.

However, Chile threatened to counterattack and twice Emiliano Martinez had to do his best to fend off advances from Rodrigo Echeverria.

But the decisive moment came when Chile failed to clear Messi’s corner kick and Lautaro Martinez scored the decisive goal.

Lautaro could have scored a second goal after a solo effort by Angel Di Maria, but in the end the single goal was enough to give the world champions their second win in two games and secure their place in the next round early.

In another Copa America match on Tuesday, Jonathan David scored the only goal as Canada revived its campaign with a 1-0 win over Peru in sweltering Kansas City.

Lille striker David – who is reportedly being targeted by Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea – once again demonstrated his goal-scoring instincts with a cool finish to secure all three points for Canada against a ten-man Peru at Children’s Mercy Park Stadium.

During a game played in the scorching afternoon sun – with temperatures on the pitch reaching almost 38 degrees Celsius – one of the two assistant referees collapsed shortly before half-time, apparently due to heat exhaustion.

Canada, which was beaten 2-0 by Argentina in its opening match of the tournament last week, took the lead in the second half after Peru were reduced to ten men following the sending off of Miguel Araujo for a wild foul on substitute Jacob Shaffelburg that sparked a brawl between players from both teams.

Referee Mario Escobar initially only showed Araujo a yellow card for his ugly foul against Shaffelburg, but after a VAR review the punishment was increased.

This sending off decided a close game in Canada’s favour and in the 74th minute the breakthrough finally came with David’s goal after a comprehensive Canadian counterattack.

Left winger Shaffelburg played a sensational cross pass directly to David, who touched the ball once without stopping and then hit the bottom corner with his right foot without beating Peru’s goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Peru pushed for an equalizer, but Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau made a beautiful one-handed reflex save to deny Christian Cueva’s volley and also saved Paolo Guerrero’s free kick in injury time.

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