The Copa America is one of the oldest continental Cup tournaments in the world. The century-old competition has been witness to one of the most incredible moments of sporting history. Let’s take a look at the top five clutch moments of the Copa America.
1.CHILE’S SUCCESSIVE COPA
The 2015 Copa America was one of the most memorable moments for Chile. The hosts had an incredible run in the Copa America and made their way to the finals. A dramatic final that featured big names like Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi ended goalless even after injury time. A penalty shootout was the only way to decide the winner. Lionel Messi took the spot for Argentina and converted the only penalty for Argentina. Chile scored all four, earning them the title. Their very first Copa America title. A historic moment for the Chileans.
2 – Chile 🇨🇱 have won each of the last two Copa America tournaments (2015 and 2016) – if they win on this occasion, they will be just the second team to win three in a row, after Argentina in 1945, 1946 and 1947. Dream.#CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/SDY8P5xll7
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) June 14, 2019
However, little did they know that their most important triumph would come a year later. La Roja went to the Copa America Centenario as the defending champions. Argentina got their revenge on the Chileans in the group stage. A 2-1 victory on 7th June. However, exactly 20 days later, Argentina faced Chile once more.
This time, like a year before, in the finals of the tournament. Argentina was once more favourites, and even though Chile were the defending champions, they weren’t at home soil like the previous encounter. They weren’t going to do a double over the Argentinians, at least that’s what everyone thought.
Once more the game ended goalless after a gruelling 120 minutes. Spot kicks were the only option left. Lionel Messi took the spot with the weight of Argentina on his shoulders. This time though, he didn’t score, and the rest is history. Chile beat Argentina twice in two years, both in a Copa America final.
2. BRAZIL HUMBLED BY HONDURAS
Honduras made it to Copa America in 2001 as a last-minute replacement for Argentina. Probably the highest point in the country’s footballing achievement came that year when they took on Brazil in the semi-final.
Brazil, a team that won the World Cup the following year, we’re at the lowest point of their football era. Luis Felipe Scolari was appointed to take them out of the poor form they were in and to help the national team qualify for the World Cup.
Selecao were looking the stronger outfit as the half time whistle blew. Neither team had found the net till then, but Brazil was clearly dominant. Twelve minutes into the second half and out of nowhere a Saul Martinez header finds the post, bounces off it and onto Brazilian defender Juninho Belletti and deflects into the goal.
Martinez once more threatened the Brazilian defence and this time scored himself in injury time to seal the deal. The front page of every newspaper was filled with headlines about the Brazilian defeat. “How much worse can it get” and “A historic Shame”, were the few of the popular ones.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said: “I will go down in history as the Brazil coach who lost to Honduras – it’s horrible. But Honduras played better, they deserved their win.”
3. THE MEXICAN WAVE
The Mexicans are not part of the CONMEBOL. They are just an invitee nation in the South American tournament. In fact, they have the most appearances in the tournament as a foreign nation. However, to deem them as mere foreigners would be an injustice to their efforts. The Mexicans have done better than even some of the members of the CONMEBOL itself.
On this day 2001 Colombia won their first and only Copa America title on home soil in the Estadio El Campin, Bogota.
The final was a tight affair and it only took one goal from legend Iván Córdoba to seal victory over Mexico wearing this Reebok home shirt. pic.twitter.com/zSomXupUQV
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) July 29, 2020
Mexico threatened to take the trophy up north two times in 1993 and 2001. Both times making it to the finals. They have also finished third three times. They have been a powerhouse in every edition they have been to, so much so that many teams have protested against inviting foreign nations.
Claudio Suarez has made 21 appearances in the Copa America. Luis Hernandez has scored nine goals in the tournament. Two benchmarks that even the players from CONMEBOL find hard to match. The Mexicans may well be more Latin American than some of the South Americans when it comes to football.
4. THE SOUTH AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHTS
Brazil vs Argentina 3-0 Highlights (Copa America Final) 2007 – https://t.co/7AvUA2zEvZ in #CopaAmérica pic.twitter.com/C83BtYimAt
— SoccerFanz (@soccerfanz16) June 9, 2016
On any given day, Brazil beating Argentina and vice-versa would not have been a surprise. They are the biggest teams in the continent, with the most prized talents. However, on July 15, 2007, a Brazilian team stormed past the La Albiceleste to take home their eighth Copa America trophy.
Like mentioned, Brazil’s win wasn’t a surprise. It was the nature of the win that shook the world. Brazil scored three goals against a side that had names like Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Javier Zanetti and Carlos Tevez. Brazil came to the tournament without their most prominent names like Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ronaldo and Adriano.
The other stars from the 2006 World Cup side were also missing. Yet, the Brazilians emerged victoriously. A one-sided match that completely blew away Argentina. A deserved win and another setback in the final for Argentina.
19 June 2016. Mexico is through the group stages and awaits Chile in the quarter-finals. Mexico was on a 22-game unbeaten run. The game ended with thirty attempted shots, out of which seven found their way to the net. None went past Claudio Bravo in Chile’s goal though.
Mexico lost the game by a thumping seven-goal margin. Seven goals to which they had no answer. Eduardo Vargas walked away with the match ball after scoring four goals. The Mexicans were one of the strongest in the tournament. But Chile sent them back to North America, reminding the Mexicans that they are not one among them. A scintillating performance by La Roja. One that will go down in the history books as one of the biggest upsets in Copa America History.