Lionel Messi has just started his Copa America campaign like only he could.
The Argentina hero is chasing the first international trophy of his career having lost three finals in South America’s premier competition as well as the climax of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Two of those final defeats came against Chile, which made it all the more fitting that they were Argentina’s first opponents of the 2021 tournament on Monday evening.
Argentina vs Chile
Argentina were hoping to exorcise the demons of 2015 and 2016 by way of starting the competition on the front foot, trying to exact revenge on the likes of Arturo Vidal and Claudio Bravo.
The opening 45 minutes were a closely-fought affair, though Argentina always looked to have more in their locker with Messi weaving his magic whenever he got the ball in the final third.
And it was indeed the Barcelona superstar who drew first blood by scoring a fantastic free-kick around the half-hour mark because, well, that’s just what he does.
Spain 0-0 Sweden Match Highlights (Football Terrace)
Messi scores stunning free-kick
Chile looked to have saved themselves from a dangerous Argentina attack by drawing a foul, but it instead presented Messi with a free-kick that always looked to be in a threatening position.
And Chilean fears were quickly confirmed when the serial Ballon d’Or winner proceeded to whip an unstoppable set-piece strike into the top corner, which you can be sure to check out below:
Just Messi doing Messi things, huh?
Messi thriving under pressure
The eyes of world football are glued to Messi at the best of times, but no more so than when he’s chasing the international title that leaves the biggest hole of all in his burgeoning trophy cabinet.
The pressure on Messi to finally fire Argentina to silverware must be immense, so it’s all the more incredible that he’s been able to start Copa America 2021 in such remarkable fashion.
It’s only the opening game, so there’s still a long way to go before any potential final, but inflicting an early blow upon the side that broke Messi’s heart in 2015 and 2016 must have been satisfying.
Martín Lasarte must be wishing that Messi really did retire from international football all those years ago…