A Lionel Messi-led Argentina side left the Estadio Único de Santiago del Estero with a mere point against a much more aggressively defensive Chilean team in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying match that ended 1-1. While Argentina's unbeaten streak against Chile at home continued, La Roja seemed to be satisfied grinding out a point against an opponent featuring arguably the greatest to ever play the sport.
The scoring began from the penalty spot, after a VAR decision determined that Argentina's Lautaro Martínez was, in fact, brought down in the box by Chilean defender Guillermo Maripan. Lionel Messi took on responsibility from the spot, sending veteran goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to the forward's left while the ball was fired towards the right.
The penalty was a goal that inspired an infusion of energy into Chile, which was converted into harder fouls and more physical play. While it might not have been to the official's liking, it did enough to put Argentina on their backheels as Chile eventually was able to ramp up pressure.
That pressure resulted in a free kick about thirty or so yards away from goal for the visiting side. A lobbed free kick found its way to Gary Medel, whose momentum had carried him away from a reasonable chance at goal. Realizing this, the 33-year-old made a sliding back pass towards his fellow countryman, Alexis Sanchez, who slotted the pass home for the equalizer in the 36th minute.
The physicality continued from Chile, and it subdued Messi, which meant that Argentina's attack was also largely silenced. The soon-to-be-ex Barcelona winger had a chance at a free kick moments after the Chilean equalizer before halftime, but that was stopped because of a heroic diving save towards the top corner of the net from Bravo. It wasn't until the final 15 minutes of the match that Messi was able to reassert himself, but Bravo was there repeatedly to deflect a long shot, a powerful shot from inside the box off of Messi's magical left foot, and force Messi to hit the post on another close free kick attempt.
However, apart from the efforts from Messi, Chile's defense successfully earned the hard-fought point that the team got Wednseday.