Before the game at Rio de Janeiro’s Nilton Santos Stadium started, fans were stunned by a touching tribute to Argentina football legend Diego Maradona, who died in November aged 60.
Argentina appeared to be ready to start giving Messi what he craves. Coach Lionel Scaloni’s lineup wasted three clear opportunities between the 16th and 18th minutes, one from Lautaro Martínez and two for Nicolas Gonzalez.
And then Messi opened the scoring in the 33rd after a free-kick that Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could not stop despite getting a touch on the ball to his left.
Chile transformed into a more aggressive team in the second half and earned a penalty after a video review.
Arturo Vidal’s shot from the spot was stopped, but Eduardo Vargas nodded into the empty goal to level the scoring in the 57th.
“This match got complicated for us,” an exhausted Messi said after the draw. “We needed to be calm, have the control of the possession and play more quickly. The penalty changed the match, too.”
Chile’s Vidal said getting a draw despite Messi’s performance was a good result for his team, which is in transition with new coach Martin Lasarte.
“Leo always makes you change your formation. Thank God we managed to secure a draw,” he said. “We are still recovering our intensity, changing the system a little. It was a tough match, we tried to keep the order.”
Paraguay lead group A after a 3-1 win over Bolivia at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania.
Bolivia scored first via Erwin Saavedra’s first-half penalty, but Paraguay changed its fortunes after the break with goals by Alejandro Romero and a brace by Angel Romero.