Argentina advances to the Copa America semifinals by defeating Ecuador 4-2 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw

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Lionel Messi took Argentina’s first penalty in a Copa America shootout against Ecuador, just as he did in the 2022 World Cup final against France. However, this time, Messi hit the crossbar, which put their semifinal chances at risk.

“I was quite upset,” he said, “but at the same time, I felt confident.”

Messi trusted goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, who saved Argentina’s hopes of winning another Copa America title.

Martínez blocked penalty kicks from Ángel Mena and Alan Minda, helping Argentina win 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw on Thursday night, securing a spot in the Copa America semifinals.

“We know what Dibu is capable of, that he really thrives on those moments. He really enjoys them,” Messi said about Martínez, using the goalkeeper’s nickname.

Argentina conceded a late goal to Ecuador in injury time of the second half, but rebounded to win the quarterfinal when Nicolás Otamendi scored the decisive penalty past Alexander Domínguez.

“I wasn’t ready to leave,” Martínez said. “This team deserved to advance. They made it very difficult for us. They played a great game, very physical. We knew they were one of the top teams in the Copa America.”

Messi reacts during a penalty shootout

Argentina, aiming for its third consecutive major title, reached the semifinals for the fifth straight Copa America and will face either Venezuela or Canada on Tuesday in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They are looking to claim a record 16th Copa America championship.

“Our goalkeeper came through in crucial moments,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni through an interpreter.

Playing before a largely pro-Argentinian crowd of 69,456 at NRG Stadium, Lisandro Martínez gave the Albiceleste a lead in the 35th minute after Messi’s corner kick. Ecuador’s Enner Valencia missed a penalty kick off the post in the 62nd minute after a handball by Rodrigo De Paul, but Kevin Rodríguez equalized in stoppage time of the second half.

Argentina started the shootout with Messi attempting a Panenka that hit the crossbar.

Martínez, who was also the goalkeeper in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup final victory, saved Mena’s shot by diving left and stopping the ball with his trailing hand. He then denied Minda by diving right and celebrated with a brief dance after the save.

Kai Soriano

By Kai Soriano

Kai Soriano, hailing from the picturesque archipelago of the Philippines, is not just your average writer. With a flair for capturing the essence of the NFL through words, Kai stands out as a leading NFL Content Writer. Blending his passion for sports with his impeccable writing skills, he delivers content that is both engaging and insightful. Dive into his pieces, and experience the game as if you're right there on the field! 🏈

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