Lionel Messi (10) gave Argentina a 1-0 lead with a first-half free kick for a goal during a Copa America Group B soccer match against Chile on Monday at Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Antonio Lacerda/EPA-EFE
June 15 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi bent in a beautiful free kick to help Argentina draw with Chile in its Copa America opener and passed rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the most made free kicks among active players.
Messi's goal came in the 33rd minute of the 1-1 draw Monday at Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro.
"We wanted to start winning," Messi told reporters. "Now we have Uruguay, which is also going to be difficult. But hey, we have to think about the next match now."
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner lined up for the attempt about 25 yards from the goal and used his left foot to smack his kick over a wall of Chilean defenders. The shot bent from left to right as it drifted toward the right post.
Chilean goalie Claudio Bravo dove to his left and got his left hand on the ball, but deflected the shot into the net.
"We are talking about players who are at another level, although you have to be at another level also to get those balls out," Bravo told reporters. "I almost did it."
Argentina carried the 1-0 lead into halftime, but Chile answered in the 57th minute. Argentina brought down Chile's Eduardo Vargas with a foul in the box to prompt a penalty kick.
Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, Messi's former Barcelona teammate, stepped up to take the shot. Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez blocked Vidal's attempt, but the ball deflected back out. Vargas finished the play with a tap-in shot from point-blank range.
Messi pushed his career total to 57 made free kicks with the score, one more than Ronaldo's total. Former Argentina star Diego Maradona owns the record with 62 made free kicks.
Messi's goal also made him Argentina's all-time leading scorer in official games, with 39 goals in 98 appearances.
"The game was complicated," Messi said. "We lacked tranquility, having control of the ball and playing faster. The penalty changed the game."
Argentina battles Uruguay in another Copa America Group B match at 8 p.m. EDT Friday in Brasilia, Brazil.