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Messi says he’s quitting Argentina national team after loss to Chile

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, grabbed his shirt, clenched his teeth and put both hands over his face.

A few minutes later he walked off the field, a dazed, pained look on his bearded face. The greatest player of his generation, perhaps soccer’s best ever, he was still without a title on Argentina’s national team.

“The national team is over for me,” he told the Argentine network TyC Sports after Chile beat Argentina for the Copa America title Sunday night. “It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.”

Chile beat Argentina in the final for the second straight year, 4-2 in the shootout following a 0-0 tie that ended an expanded 16-nation edition in the United States to mark the championship’s 100th anniversary.

[MORE: Messi, Argentina’s trophy-less drought continues| Chile wins 2016 Copa America final]

Messi, five-time FIFA Player of the Year, winner of four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns with Barcelona, was crushed. Much of his nation had counted on him to bring home its first major title since 1993.

Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row and the fourth time overall with Argentina. There was also the 2007 Copa final with Brazil, when he was still a wunderkind, and then an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup.

A crowd of 82,076 filled MetLife Stadium — the largest to see a soccer game in New Jersey — and many wore his No. 10 jersey in Argentina’s blue and white and Barcelona’s navy and red.

Francisco Silva converted the shootout finale for the fifth-ranked La Roja after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo — Messi’s Barcelona teammate — made a diving stop on Lucas Biglia’s attempt. Chile, ranked fifth in the world, upset the top-ranked Albiceleste.

On an ill-tempered evening that included a first-half ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the game was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the third straight final. Argentina outshot Chile 16-4 and La Roja collapsed three, four and even five defenders around Messi, then chopped down the diminutive attacker when he tried to accelerate toward the goal.

Messi, who scored five goals in the tournament, sent a free kick that Sergio Aguero nearly headed in 10 minutes into extra time, only to have Bravo jump and extend his right hand to tip the ball over the crossbar. Messi’s free kick in extra time went off the wall.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, considered alongside Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Diego Maradona as the sport’s greatest ever. While he won the titles at the under-20 and Olympic (under-23) levels for Argentina, in the minds of many he needs a championship with his nation’s senior team to solidify his place in history

Messi sent his shot over Bravo into the stands. Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.

Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right, saving Biglia’s shot and bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey of his face, as if not wanting to watch.

Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.

Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain’s armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back on the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi’s shoulders. And new FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave Messi a pat on the back when Messi came onto the podium with his teammates for his second-place medal. Messi almost immediately took it off.

The tournament’s average crowd of 46,119 was nearly double the 25,223 in Chile last year, and attendance will be used by the U.S. Soccer Federation as justification it deserves to host a World Cup again, likely as part of a bid for the 2026 tournament.

Brazilian referee Heber Lopes became the focus in the first half, ejecting a pair of defenders: Chile’s Marcelo Diaz in the 28th minute and Argentina’s Marcos Rojo in the 43rd. After issuing six yellow cards during a World Cup qualifier between the nations in March, Lopes handed out eight yellows, including one to Messi for diving in the 40th minute, and the two reds.

Diaz got his first yellow for hacking down Messi about 28 yards out in the 16th minute, then got his second for obstructing a charging Messi about 30 yards out. Rojo received a straight red when he slid into Arturo Vidal from behind and poked away the ball, but Vidal’s leg bent awkwardly under his body as he fell.

Higuain had the best first-half chance in the 21st minute when he picked up a giveaway from Gary Medel, dribbled in and chipped the ball over Bravo only to have it roll wide of the far post. It was almost the exact time he broke in alone during the World Cup final against Germany and also shot wide. Higuain also missed a tap-in of Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cross during the final minute of regulation in last year’s final, then sent his penalty kick during the shootout over the crossbar.

Premier League Odds: Man City puts unbeaten record on the line

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The megabucks transfer of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona has sway over a couple of English Premier League lines – one immediate, one long-range.

As league play resumes, undefeated Manchester City is a +120 favorite away at Coutinho-less Liverpool, who comes back at +205; the draw offers +260 on the three-way moneyline and the total is 3.0, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Whether it is relevant that Man City’s last win at Anfield in 2003 is debatable, since City has become such a well-heeled club in the years since. But this could be a tricky matchup for the Citizens since key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne will likely to be marked by the physical Emre Can.

The loss of Coutinho notwithstanding, Liverpool still has firepower with the EPL’s No. 2 scorer, Mohamed Salah, along with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The 5-0 scoreline from the teams’ first league game at City was an anomaly, as Liverpool was a 10-man side after a red card in the first half.

The 3.0 total pays -120 for the over, and there’s probably just too much potency in each team’s attack for anyone to record a shutout. If one is going chalk with a City pick, then Raheem Sterling with his knack for late-game tallies is worth a side bet in goal scorer props.

Huddersfield Town (+160) has not lost at home this season against a lower-placed team, but West Ham United (+190, +200 draw) is on an uptick with a win or draw in six of its last seven games. Five of the last six games in this matchup have had fewer than 2.5 goals. The 2.0 total pays -110 either way.

Watford (+135) is in a funk with one win in six league fixtures, but Southampton (+195, +230 draw) is winless in nine. These sides’ last eight games have had a combined 34 goals (4.25 per match), so the 2.5 total with over paying -105 is very good value.

Chelsea (-375), off a short turnaround from a Carabao Cup match, hosts Leicester City (+1000, +475 draw). Chelsea will have captain Gary Cahill on its back line, but its finishing has been problematic lately. Leicester, which has both conceded and scored in 14 of 22 games, is even money on the goals line at +1.5.

Bournemouth (+355) let Arsenal (-145, +310 draw) off the hook during their 2017 fixture by blowing a three-goal lead. Bournemouth, with striker Callum Wilson up front, offers great value for the upset. In any event, there should be scoring; the over on the 3.0 total pays 2.5.

Meantime, Man City’s 15-point cushion on second-placed Man United has destroyed any value in EPL champions futures, as it’s dropped to -10000. The best futures prop might be for top goal scorer. Tottenham’s Harry Kane (-185) is the homegrown favorite, but he has only one more goal than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (+400), who at 4-to-1 offers enticing value. Liverpool, which is 6-2-1 without Coutinho this season, should still have sufficient playmaking support to get Salah his scoring opportunities.

City’s Sergio Aguero (+500) and the aforementioned Sterling (+2000) are four and five goals behind Kane respectively, but they could cancel each other out and also get spotted in league games if City continues advancing in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup competitions.

Arsenal, Liverpool Highlight Premier League Betting Slate for Weekend

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Right now, $100 “risked” on Manchester City on the odds to win the Premier League would bring a grand return of three dollars and three cents, meaning bettors who play the futures game are looking elsewhere for value.

At the midpoint of the season, undefeated Man City is at -3300 at the top of the EPL outright winner board with Manchester United (+2000) as a nominal second favorite, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. City’s next four fixtures are against a motley crew of Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Watford, so it seems highly dubious that their lead is set to shrink.

In top four props, Man United (-900) and Chelsea (-500) are kicking up plenty of chalk. The prices on Arsenal (+150) and Liverpool (-165) could be subject to some wild fluctuations over Christmas week, since they play head-to-head Friday. Liverpool has a potent offense, Arsenal is a riskier play since it will have the diversion of Champions League in the new year.

Tottenham Hotspur (+160) has seen its price rise due to a couple recent losses. Longshot Burnley (+10000) plays six of its next nine games against teams currently in the top six.

As noted, Arsenal (+140) is just a slight home favorite against Liverpool (+180, +250 draw) in a Friday matchup, even though the Reds won 4-0 at home when the rivals met in August. Liverpool, with a diverse attack that includes goals leader Mohamed Salah, has scored in bunches on the road and could do so again.

Despite his place on the scoring table, Salah (+275) is still second favorite to be top goal scorer behind Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who trails him by two.

Everton (+475) and Chelsea (-165, +280 draw) each played earlier this week, but Chelsea has a deeper cache of outfield players with the likes of N’Golo Kante and Marcos Alonso rested. Chelsea is +115 at minus-1.0 goals and the over on the 2.5 total pays +105.

Last-place Swansea City (+220) fired manager Paul Clement this week and might need a game or two to get collected, while Crystal Palace (+135, +210 draw) is playing much better. Whether Swansea City nets a goal could be staked on whether Wilfried Bony (hamstring) is 100 percent available.

Burnley (+575) has held five opponents in a row to fewer than two goals and it thrives at frustrating talented teams. Tottenham Hotspur (-200, +305 draw), with a five-game road losing streak, could have a low boiling point, so Burnley is great value to take at least a draw or maybe the full three points.

Leicester City (+340), given forward Jamie Vardy’s history of stepping up against top-end teams, have an outside shot of upsetting Manchester United (-125, +260 draw), but the Red Devils will have Paul Pogba back to spark counter-attacks. The over on the 2.5 total could be an easy hit.

Brighton & Hove Albion (+160) is on a seven-match winless skid, but Watford (+190, +210 draw) has lost three in a row and the Hornets will not have leading goal scorer Abdoulaye Doucoure (suspension). Watford has allowed some multi-goal games lately, so Brighton’s Glenn Murray has a good chance to boot one home in this one.