Emi Martínez Shines as Argentina Triumphs Over Ecuador in Penalty Shootout

In a thrilling Copa América quarter-final, Argentina edged past Ecuador 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Texas. Despite Lionel Messi missing Argentina’s first penalty with an attempted Panenka, goalkeeper Emi Martínez emerged as the hero by saving Ecuador’s first two spot-kicks.

Argentina took the lead 10 minutes before halftime when Lisandro Martínez scored, only for Ecuador to equalize in injury time with a superb header by Kevin Rodríguez. Earlier in the match, Ecuador’s captain Enner Valencia missed a crucial penalty, hitting the post after a handball by Rodrigo De Paul.

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During the penalty shootout, Messi’s Panenka attempt hit the crossbar, but Emi Martínez’s crucial saves against Ángel Mena and Alan Minda turned the tide. Julián Álvarez and Alexis Mac Allister successfully converted their penalties, putting Argentina in a commanding position. After John Yeboah, Gonzalo Montiel, and Jordy Caicedo scored, Nicolás Otamendi secured Argentina’s victory with the decisive penalty.

Reflecting on the match, Martínez said, “I wasn’t ready to go home. This team deserved to advance. They played a great match, very physical. We knew they were one of the top rivals in Copa América.”

Lisandro Martínez, who had given Argentina the lead with a header from a Messi corner, was substituted by Otamendi. Rodríguez’s equalizer came from a cross by fellow substitute Yeboah, and Caicedo missed a golden opportunity to win the match in the dying moments.

Ecuador’s coach, Félix Sánchez Bas, praised his team’s performance, saying, “We showed this team can compete against any opponent.”

Argentina now looks forward to facing either Canada or Venezuela in the semi-final on Tuesday.


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