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Copa America Centenario Final: Chile beats Argentina on penalties, again

Copa America Centenario: much like the last Copa America.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If there was ever going to be a victim of CONMEBOL's decision to have a Copa America one year after its last Copa America it was Chile. Currently (the tournament adjusts its timing with reliable fequency), the South American continental champion is identified every four years. At least, it has been that way since 2007. Brazil got four years to call itself Copa America champ after winning the 2007 tournament; Uruguay was CONMEBOL champion for four years after winning in 2011; Chile won its first Copa America - on home soil, no less - in 2015, and scarcely got 12 months to enjoy it before being asked to head to the USA to defend the title.

You can argue the Copa America Centenario is just a glorified series of exhibition games, and perhaps that is all it is in reality. But for Chile, and its fans, it would have been a hollow argument: the winner of the trophy in 2015 would inevitably be overshadowed by the winner of the cup more recently awarded in 2016. Fortunately for La Roja, it has won both tournaments.

Chile came into this tournament as Copa America champion, and it leaves as Copa America Centenario champion. It doesn't matter whether you think this competition was a valid part of South America's football championship history: however you come at it, you reach the conclusion Chile is CONMEBOL's reigning champ.

This is bad news for Argentina, which has now appeared in four of the last five Copa America finals and lost them all. Three of them on penalties. Two of them on penalties to Chile. In 2014, Argentina lost the World Cup final to Germany. La Albiceleste and its most admired player - Lionel Messi - have lost three major tournament finals in the last three years. It is starting to feel like international soccer tournaments are a mechanism for torturing the emotions of Argentine soccer stars.

The game itself saw chances for both sides, though each team had to reorganize to cope with losing a man. Referee Heber Lopes made his presence felt early, sending off Chile's Marcelo Diaz with two yellow cards before the match had hit the 30 minute mark. Argentina's Marcos Rojo followed shortly before half time, and six other players received yellows during the game.

The ejections did not turn the match one way or the other. Argentina had more chances, Chile had goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

When the match turned to penalties, it was Chile's captain Bravo who held his nerve - saving Lucas Biglia's effort - while Argentina captain Messi skied his shot.