Lionel Messi misses penalty but Argentina still reaches Copa América semi-finals

Agustin Marcarian/Reuters

Argentina defeated Ecuador on penalties to reach the semi-finals.


Goalkeeper Emi Martínez was the hero for Argentina as The Albiceleste reached the semi-finals of the Copa América by beating Ecuador 4–2 after a 1–1 draw.

Argentina led for most of the match in Houston, Texas, after Manchester United defender Lisandro Martínez headed in a corner in the 35th minute.

But Ecuador equalised in injury time when Kevin Rodríguez headed a cross from John Yeboah into the bottom corner.

The three had a great chance to win the match a few minutes later, but Jordy Caicedo headed his ball wide of the post from just six yards.

There was no extra time and the match was decided on penalties. Lionel Messi missed the first attempt in the shoot-out, his shot with Panenka hitting the top of the crossbar.

However, Martínez saved Ecuador’s next two penalties on Ángel Mena and Alan Minda, while Argentina scored the next four goals, sparing Messi the blushes and securing a place in the semi-finals, where they will face the winner of the quarter-final between Venezuela and Canada on Friday.

Martínez, who has built a reputation as a penalty taker, performed his trademark dance after brilliantly saving Minda’s spot-kick.

According to the BBC, the Aston Villa goalkeeper took 24 penalties for Argentina and conceded just 12, including nine saves.

Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Lionel Messi missed his penalty in the penalty shootout.

“I’m working to do this,” Martinez said after the match, according to the Argentine Football Federation. “I dive 500 times per training session. We always have to do our best, the people deserve it.

“They made it very difficult for us. They played a great game, very physical. We knew they would be one of the toughest rivals in the cup, but I wasn’t ready to go home. This group deserved to go through.

“These are special moments, being together with our people, [a stadium] full of Argentinians. We didn’t play the game that people wanted to see, but luckily we won.”

Leave a Comment