Player ratings: Messi dangerous as Argentina edge past Chile

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Substitute Lautaro Martínez scored late on as Argentina beat Chile 1-0 at MetLife Stadium in Copa América Group A action on Tuesday night, easily qualifying the reigning champions for the quarterfinals in the process.

Argentina dominated much of the game but were unable to turn that superiority into goals. Julián Álvarez spurned an early chance, with his soft shot saved by Chile keeper Claudio Bravo. Lionel Messi survived an early injury scare to twice go close — including hitting the post — as the reigning champions went in at half-time in the ascendency, just not on the scoreboard.

There were more opportunities for Argentina after the break. Nahuel Molina was denied by Bravo, Alexis Mac Allister couldn’t reach a Messi free kick, and Bravo tipped Nico Gonzalez‘s shot onto the bar.

At the other end, Albiceleste keeper Emiliano Martínez was finally called into action, saving twice from Rodrigo Echeverria, before Martinez broke the deadlock in the 88th minute to give Argentina two wins out of two at the tournament.

Manager rating (scale of 1-10)

Lionel Scaloni, 8 — Made three changes to the team that beat Canada, with Nicolás Tagliafico, Enzo Fernández and Nicolas Gonzalez coming in. Gonzalez, in particular, proved to be the right call. Scaloni was proactive, making five substitutions as Argentina chased a goal, and Martinez got the job done.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Emiliano Martinez, 7 — Had a very quiet first half, when he didn’t face a single shot, but made two important stops in the second from Echeverria.

DF Nahuel Molina, 7 — Put in one dangerous first-half cross from the right and could have scored after half-time.

DF Cristian Romero, 7 — Lucky not to concede an early penalty for his challenge on Víctor Dávila, but otherwise did well and was involved in the goal.

DF Lisandro Martínez, 6 — Had a quiet evening, with Chile offering next to nothing in attack.

DF Nicolas Tagliafico, 6 — Looked good getting forward out wide, but had little to do in defence.

MF Enzo Fernandez, 6 — Replaced Leandro Paredes in the team but was the first player substituted as Argentina looked for a goal.

MF Alexis Mac Allister, 7 — Could easily have scored in the second half, but Messi’s ball into the box was just out of reach.

MF Rodrigo De Paul, 6 — Brings energy to midfield, even if his end product often frustrates. Might have been punished for a challenge on Gabriel Suazo.

MF Nicolas Gonzalez, 7 — Looked lively, making a case to keep his place in the starting XI. Rattled the woodwork in the second half with a fierce shot.

FW Lionel Messi, 8 — Caught on the thigh by Suazo in the first half, needing lengthy treatment. Went close to scoring twice three times, including hitting the post.

FW Julian Alvarez, 6 — Had two excellent first-half chances, especially the first, when he shot at Bravo when left in space inside the box.

Substitutes

MF Giovani Lo Celso, 6 — Scaloni’s first change didn’t stand out.

MF Angel Di Maria, NR — Brought down once, as he advanced on the penalty area, and came so close to setting up a second goal.

FW Lautaro Martinez, NR — Scored the all-important goal, and could have had another in added time.

DF Marcos Acuña, NR — Thrown on to give the team more width.

DF Gonzalo Montiel, NR — Didn’t have time to do much.