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Monday, July 15, 2024

Argentina vs. Ecuador : Copa America 2024 result as Lionel Messi’s blushes spared by penalty hero Emi Martinez

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Lionel Messi’s penalty blushes were spared by hero goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, as Argentina progressed to the Copa America semifinals with a 4-2 penalty shootout win against Ecuador.

Tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Messi was the only Argentina player to miss in the shootout, with his ‘Panenka’ chip striking the crossbar. However, Martinez saved the first two Ecuador penalties to send the Copa America favourites through to the last four in front of a full house at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Veteran centre-back Nicolas Otamendi stroked home the winning penalty to secure a win that Ecuador could have nabbed themselves if it wasn’t for a lack of composure.

Ecuador squandered early chances through Moises Caicedo and Jeremy Sarmiento before Lisandro Martinez was unmarked at the back post to head Argentina into the lead on 35 minutes.

The underdogs had the perfect chance to equalise in the second half, when after 62 minutes Rodrigo De Paul was penalised for handball inside the penalty area, but veteran attacker Enner Valencia struck his spot-kick off the post.

It looked like Argentina would secure a cagey 1-0 win until an extraordinary stoppage-time equaliser was scored by Kevin Rodriguez, who flicked home an excellent cross by John Yeboah.

Ecuador then went on to nearly win the match in injury time, as Jordy Caicedo failed to make decisive contact on a header after a teasing cross into the box.

With no extra time played until the Copa America final, penalties followed, with Messi — who had looked out of sorts all night, perhaps still carrying the effects of an injury that kept him out against Peru — stepping up first to the spot. In an extraordinary moment, Messi’s “Panenka” penalty clipped the top of the crossbar and went over, giving Argentina the worst possible start to the shootout.

But the Albiceleste possess a goalkeeping behemoth in Martinez, who dove in each direction to save penalties from Angel Mena and Alan Minda to get his side in front, with substitute Julian Alvarez scoring Argentina’s second attempt.

No further penalties were missed in the shootout as Otamendi stepped up to win the game and secure a semifinal for Argentina against either Venezuela or Canada.

Argentina vs. Ecuador final score (after penalties)

Final Score Goal scorers
Argentina 1(4) Li. Martinez 35′
Ecuador 1(2) Rodriguez 90+1′

Venue: NRG Stadium, Houston

Referee: Andres Matonte (URU)

Starting lineups:

Argentina (4-3-3, right to left): 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 26. Molina, 13. Romero, 25. Li. Martinez (Otamendi 78′), 3. Tagliafico — 24. Fernandez (Lo Celso 78′), 7. De Paul, 20. Mac Allister — 10 Messi, 15. Gonzalez, 22. La. Martinez (Alvarez 65′)

Ecuador (4-2-3-1, right to left): 22. Dominguez (GK) —  17. Preciado, 2. Torres, 6. Pacho, 3. Hincapie — 21. Franco (J.Caicedo 87′), 23. M. Caicedo — 8. Gruezo (Mena 80′), 10. Paez (Minda 76′), 16. Sarmiento (Rodriguez 76′) — 13. Valencia (Yeboah 80′).

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