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For Argentina's Higuain, more missed chances in Copa final

27 June 2016, 12:27

East Rutherford — Gonzalo Higuain had the ball with no defender between him and the goalkeeper.

And he missed badly. Just like last year's Copa America final. And just like the 2014 World Cup final.

Lionel Messi and Argentina lost another championship match at a major tournament Sunday, falling to Chile 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw — an excruciatingly eerie repeat of the 2015 Copa final between the teams.

Messi, as always, will be the focus of the latest shortcoming, especially after he missed his penalty that would have given Argentina an early lead in the shootout. But with his country's major title drought now guaranteed to extend at least a quarter-century, multiple misses on promising opportunities by Messi's teammates also doomed Argentina on Sunday.

And once again, Higuain had the best of them. In the 21st minute, the Napoli forward stole the ball from Gary Medel and was one-on-one with goalkeeper Claudio Bravo but pushed the ball just left of the net.

La Albiceleste had five shots on goal to Chile's three, but the most glaring number was this: 11 shots off target for Argentina.

Also read: Napoli blow as Higuain gets four-match ban

The tens of thousands of Argentina fans in the stands groaned louder and louder as one shot after another sailed high or wide, or both.

In extra time, Argentina finally challenged Bravo when Sergio Aguero's header off Messi's free kick appeared headed under the crossbar. But a leaping Bravo got his fingertips on it to send the ball sailing over the net.

It was all achingly familiar for Argentina and especially Higuain. In last year's Copa final, Higuain hit the outside of the net on a breakaway at the end of regulation. He went on to miss a penalty, as well.

And in the World Cup final two years ago, which Argentina lost 1-0 in extra time to Germany, Higuain had an errant header land at his feet at about the same stage of the match as Sunday's miss. He just needed to beat the goalkeeper but sent his shot wide. He later thought he'd scored but had been called offside.

On Sunday, Chile went down to 10 men in the 28th minute, but Argentina couldn't score with the advantage. Then in the 43rd minute, Argentina's Marcos Rojo was sent off when he slid into Arturo Vidal from behind, and the teams played 10-on-10 the rest of the way.

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- AP


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