Argentina Survives Penalty Scare, Advances to Copa America Semis

Argentina Celebrating Victory
Preeti Bali / 6:45 am / July 5, 2024

Argentina secured a nerve-wracking victory over Ecuador on Thursday, booking their place in the Copa America semifinals after a dramatic penalty shootout. The reigning champions faced a determined Ecuadorian team that forced a draw in regulation time, before goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez emerged as the hero in the shootout.

Liisandro Martinez Scores, But Ecuador Responds Late

Argentina took the lead midway through the first half thanks to a well-placed header from Liisandro Martinez. The goal came from a corner by Lionel Messi, flicked on by Alexis Mac Allister, and gave the Albiceleste a seemingly comfortable advantage. However, Ecuador refused to surrender and grabbed a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time. Kevin Rodríguez capitalized on a cross from John Yeboah, heading the ball past Argentina’s goalkeeper to send the match into a penalty shootout.

Messi Falters, But Martinez Shines in Shootout

The shootout proved to be a tense affair, with both teams missing their opening attempts. Argentina’s captain, Lionel Messi, stepped up first but saw his chipped penalty strike the crossbar. However, Argentina’s hero came in the form of Emiliano Martinez, who replicated his heroics from the 2022 World Cup final. Martinez made two brilliant saves, denying Ángel Mena and Alan Minda, to give Argentina the upper hand.

Argentina Holds Nerve, Secures Semifinal Berth

Argentina capitalized on Martinez’s heroics, with Julián Álvarez and Alexis Mac Allister converting their penalties. While Ecuador kept themselves alive through goals from John Yeboah and Jordy Caicedo, Gonzalo Montiel and Nicolas Otamendi sealed the victory for Argentina, sending them through to the semifinals.

Messi Back in Action, Argentina Seeks Third Straight Title

The match marked the return of Lionel Messi, who missed Argentina’s final group stage match due to a minor leg injury. Despite the missed penalty, Messi’s return is a major boost for Argentina as they continue their quest for a record-extending 16th Copa America title. They will face the winner of Friday’s clash between Venezuela and Canada in the semifinals, aiming to secure their third consecutive major trophy.

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