SANTIAGO: Hosts Chile finally won the Copa America for the first time and in front of their own fans when Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez struck the shot which defeated Argentina 4-1 in a shootout after a goalless extra-time draw in the final of the South American championship.

Lionel Messi converted Argentina’s first kick but, as Chile struck their ¬†three so Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega both failed. That set up Sanchez, who had had a quiet game, to shoot the decisive kick beyond keeper Sergio Romero.

Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said: “Our whole idea was to win something, we knew that this was the time. This is a remarkable generation and now is the time to enjoy it.”

Argentina Chile had beaten only once previously in 38 competitive games. Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, a centre of controversy after crashing his car early in the tournament, ¬†said: “This is great for all Chileans. The people needed a victory, something like this cup and now we can say we are best in South America.”

The final had been a poor game with few chances and neither Messi or Sanchez were at their best. The teams managed only 19 shots between them, the fewest in any final since 1993.

Higuain came closest to opening the scoring for Argentina in the final minute of normal time after a move created by Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi but he shot into the side net.

Sanchez could have win it for Chile in stoppage time fired over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat. Still, he made amends at the climax to the shootout.

** Peru beat Paraguay 2-0 in the third place play-off on goals from Andre Carrillo(48) and Jose Paolo Guerrero (89).