The final three minutes of the Pan American Games men’s final were about as dramatic as you could have possibly imagined but Argentina sealed their spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with a 3-1 win over hosts, Chile. A capacity crowd taunted the 11-time Pan Am Games champions for a full 60 minutes and despite nearly every video referral call tilting in Chile’s favour, they could not find a response to Argentina’s second goal.
The Leones opened the scoring early in the game as Lucas Toscani’s cross was tipped perfectly by a streaking Lucas Martinez to make it 1-0. Chile had their chances to get level in the same quarter but Juan Amoroso could not find a way past Tomas Santiago’s pads.
The Chilean defence, anchored by Amoroso, Andrews Pizarro and Axel Richter, were as superb as they could be this tournament, keeping Argentina limited to the circle perimeter and diving to block shots and crosses. Late in the second quarter Argentina got their first penalty corner but Maico Casella slipped on the delivery and Adrian Henriquez made the save. Henriquez was called upon again moments later when Toscani’s weighted pass was on target, again for Martinez, but Henriquez slid out to make the block.
Argentina had two goals and a penalty corner called back from video referrals, setting up the ultimate end to the third quarter. Rolling off the referral momentum, Chile were able to earn a penalty corner that Richter flicked low and hard past Santiago to tie the game 1-1. The crowd roared behind their Diablos but, as expected, Argentina dialled in for the final quarter.
A hard challenge from Jose Maldonado resulted in a Chile yellow card suspension early in the fourth quarter and that put Chile on their heels. Argentina’s Federico Monja had a clean look at goal steered away by Henriquez, while Tomas Domene had a penalty corner flick rocket on target but again the brilliant Henriquez steered it wide.
Finally, in the crowded Chilean circle, the ball somehow rolled across the goal mouth where Martinez was there to get the final touch. The ball barely made it through traffic but it was enough to give Argentina the all-important 2-1 lead with just nine minutes to go.
Chile never stopped fighting as Martin Rodriguez continued to drive the offence but all alone, he was met with too many Argentina defenders. Chile’s best chance came on a hopeful cross from Raimundo Valenzuela but Rodriquez’s deflection was directed off the baseline.
With under two minutes to go, Thomas Habif was sent off with a yellow card and Chilean coach Jorge Dabanch made the decision to take Henriquez out in hopes a two-player advantage and a free hit in Argentina’s end would get them on the board. Chile gained the Argentine circle but the cross was intercepted and bounced out to Domene and Agustin Bugallo on a quick break. Domene bypassed a desperate Amoroso to give Bugallo the free pass to goal and, ultimately, crush the Chilean hearts to make it 3-1.
The win gives Argentina the sole Pan America continental berth to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, while Chile and bronze-medallists, Canada, will have to go the hard route through Olympic qualifier tournaments. This is Argentina’s fourth-straight Pan American gold medal and 11th overall since the first edition of the event in 1967. It’s also a third Pan American gold medal for Argentina captain, Matias Rey, playing in his fourth games.