A shattered Lionel Messi has declared his international career for Argentina over after a costly penalty shootout miss as Chile retained the Copa America title.

Chile earned bragging rights as South America's dominant team as they beat favourites Argentina 4-2 on penalties in the final - having beaten them 4-1 on penalties in the decider last year.

Superstar Messi missed high with the first shot from the spot in the shootout, cutting a dejected figure after the result was sealed and Argentina's trophy drought was extended to 23 years.

"The national team is over for me," Messi told Argentine network TyC Sports.

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"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."

Playing two days after his 29th birthday Messi, five-time FIFA Player of the Year, winner of four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns with Barcelona, had been desperate to deliver a title his country craved.

Instead he had lost in 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.

Argentina and Chile were deadlocked 0-0 after 90 minutes and also after another half an hour of extra time in a match where both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half before a sellout 82,000 crowd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Chilean substitute Francisco Silva placed his penalty low and to the right of Sergio Romero to score the winner after both Messi and Lucas Biglia missed for Argentina and Arturo Vidal missed for Chile.

"We are an historic group and we proved that today," said Chilean striker Eduardo Vargas. Messi's retirement comments came three days after he expressed his frustrations with the Argentine FA.

Lionel Messi of Argentina is tripped up by Charles Aranguiz of Chile. Photo / Getty Images.
Lionel Messi of Argentina is tripped up by Charles Aranguiz of Chile. Photo / Getty Images.

"Once again waiting on a plane to leave for our destination," Messi wrote on his Instagram.

"What a disaster the AFA are. My god!"

The bulk of first half action in the final involved referee Heber Lopes in an overly physical encounter.

The Brazilian sent off Marcelo Diaz on 27 minutes for a second crude challenge on Messi, and then he levelled the sides 15 minutes later when he showed Marcos Rojo a straight red for a harsh tackle on Vidal.

Three others were booked, including Messi for diving inside the box, in a first half that had as many cards as shots on goal.

The second half provided more of the same and although Chile, who have never beaten Argentina in open play in 26 previous Copa America encounters, at least managed to call Romero into action, neither side created any clear cut chances.

The 30 minutes of extra time was more of the same, although Vargas came close for Chile and substitute Sergio Aguero had a nice header tipped over by Claudio Bravo.

The Centenary Copa America was played in the United States for the first time this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Copa America in 1916.

The tournament was expanded to 16 teams, 10 from South America and six from the CONCACAF region of North and central America and the Caribbean.

- AAP