Argentina entered this match needing a win to stay atop the World Cup standings for the Conmebol section of play. Chile needed a win to stave off a possible overhaul of their team.
La Roja started the match sitting in sixth place and were desperate for points to move above Venezuela and Uruguay in the standings. They were coming off a 3-1 loss to Ecuador, their second in a row.
Chile needed to attack early, but were handicapped by the suspension of three players following the match against Ecuador.
The task at hand for Chile was remarkably difficult. They had to figure out how to launch an attack while compensating for their hindered defense against the talented trio of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Aguero.
Their efforts led to exciting play and Chile looked as though they may have an answer, at least over the first 25 minutes.
Messi puts Argentina ahead of Chile 1-0 off the pass from Gago— ESPN Press Pass (@ESPNPressPass) October 17, 2012
Argentina dominated the next 20 minutes and Messi and Higuaín notched a pair of goals late in the first half.
Argentina simply held on from there. They controlled the match relative to quality shots on goal and superior ball movement led to better penetration.
Odd as it was, even the linesman recognized the class of the game.
Chile made a last-ditch effort but there wasn't enough extra time for them to tie the match. The goal by Felipe Gutiérrez was all they could muster.
The next round for Chile begins with a match against Peru in March. Argentina will take on Venezuela.
La Roja will spend their time attempting to figure out what has gone wrong. There is still time for them to launch an assault but the odds are squarely against them.
CONMEBOL World Cup Standings