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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.

EPL Roundup: Manchester City’s title odds continue to improve

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Manchester City’s futures line has continued to decrease in value, even though it is only two points clear of its cross-town rival with 30 games yet to play.

Unbeaten through eight rounds of play in the 38-game season, Manchester City is now the -250 favorite to be the English Premier League outright champion, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The price on Manchester United (+350) has risen, while Tottenham Hotspur (+1200) has dropped well back.

Matchweek 9 gets underway with West Ham United (-125) hosting Brighton & Hove Albion (+375, draw +235) in a Friday betting matchup. The teams drew 1-1 in their last matchup and could very well do so again, based on both teams’ struggles with finishing plays. Brighton’s best shot to score, as it always is, is Pascal Gross.

Huddersfield Town (+850) seems unlikely to break a four-game goal drought against Manchester United (-285, draw +395), but it will dig in around its goal and make Man U earn its three points. The under on the 2.5 total is -115, and this might be the play since Manchester United might take the do-just-enough-to-win approach.

Manchester City (-1200) hosts pesky Burnley (+2400, draw +1000). The big betting question revolves around the 4.0 total and City being minus-2.5 on the goal line. Burnley might not be capable of stopping City cold, or scoring many goals, but manager Sean Dyche has coaxed them to earn points against top competition several times already this season.

The tightest moneyline involves Swansea City (+180) at home against Leicester City (+160, draw +220). The Foxes decided the show was over for manager Craig Shakespeare and remain an iffy play until his firing blows over. The total is 3.0 and the oddsmakers have the juice on the over (-135) instead of the under (-110). Swansea striker Tammy Abraham should get his share of scoring opportunities.

Off to its worst start in almost a decade, Everton (+275) is an underdog at home against Arsenal (even, draw +250) in a Sunday betting matchup. Taking the Toffees here would be based on the belief that Everton manager Ronald Koeman will pull out all the stops in order to keep his job. Arsenal, after fielding a no-name bunch in its Europa League match on Thursday, could finally have Alexandre Lacazette running with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

While Tottenham Hotspur (+115) is home to Liverpool (+230, draw +250) on Sunday, it went winless in three tries against the Reds last season. Liverpool is the farthest thing from a sit-back-and-wait team, which ups the possibility of Harry Kane scoring for the Spurs and the 3.0 total going over. The price on Liverpool is nearly irresistible, but Tottenham might be due.

Manchester City Tops EPL Futures, But Manchester United Has Chance to Move

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While Manchester City is moving deeper into minus-money range, Manchester United can show it’s a challenger by winning a rivalry match this weekend.

Riding a five-win streak in the league, Manchester City is the -150 favorite on the odds to win the EPL championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Manchester United (+275) has had the benefit of a soft schedule so far, but manager Jose Mourinho’s men can make a statement during matchweek 8 by winning on the road against rival Liverpool.

Chelsea (+800) and Tottenham Hotspur (+1400) remain the darkhorses.

Although Liverpool (+175) is at home for the aforementioned feature match against Manchester United (+155, draw +235), not having speedster Sadio Mane at winger will limit the Reds’ ability to counter-attack. There is a chance of Manchester United playing shutdown soccer and counting on the likes of Romelu Lukaku to poke in a decisive goal. Knowing the stakes, the under on the 2.5 total is inviting.

There is an even tighter three-way moneyline involving host Burnley (+165) against West Ham United (+175, draw +210). West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is getting close to having his first-choice lineup, but Burnley has been the most cohesive squad and is at home, where it’s been tough since the start of last season.

Swansea City (+110) takes a winless home record into action against sagging Huddersfield Town (+275, draw +210). With both teams scuffling offensively and Swansea F Wilfried Bony (hamstring) being uncertain to play, this smacks of a potential 1-0 game. The total is 2.0.

Manchester City (-650) is home to Stoke City (+1800, draw +750). City has scored four goals in three of their last five matches against Stoke, which means both the over on the 3.5 total and the even-money payout on City covering the minus-2.5 goal-line both look reachable.

Neither Brighton & Hove Albion (+220) nor Everton (+135, draw +205) is inspiring great confidence. Brighton is missing three first-choice players, while Everton has had only two men, Oumar Niasse and Wayne Rooney, score a goal this season. The draw offers almost as much value as a Brighton victory.

And Leicester City (EVEN) hosts West Bromwich Albion (+300, draw +225) in the Monday betting matchup. The Foxes need the three points to get out of the relegation zone, and should be able to set up a fresh-legged Jamie Vardy for a goal.