Martinez shootout heroics sends Argentina to Copa America final
Argentina to face Brazil in final
Argentina progressed from their Copa America semifinal against Colombia with a 3-2 penalty shootout victory after the game ended 1-1 in regulation time and extra time. Aston Villa and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved three penalties in the shootout to help his team win the game.
Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez put the Albiceleste in front as he swept home a pass from talisman Lionel Messi in assured fashion in the seventh minute. Both sides pressed forward for the next goal, with Argentine keeper Emiliano Martinez called into action a number of times and Wilmar Barrios hitting the outside of the post for Colombia following a wicked deflection. Colombia’s persistence finally bore fruit as FC Porto winger Luis Diaz showed good strength to just hold off Argentina’s German Pezzella before finding the far corner in the 61st minute to spark wild celebrations from the Colombian bench. Goalscorer Martinez somehow missed an open goal after Angel Di Maria rounded the goalkeeper and fed him the ball, hitting the defender on the line before Di Maria skied the ball. The game went into penalties after neither side could find a winning goal.
Juan Cuadrado stepped up to take the first kick for Colombia and powered home the shot beyond the reach of Martinez. Messi stepped up and sent Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina the wrong way with an unstoppable penalty. Davinson Sanchez saw his penalty saved by Martinez before Rodrigo De Paul blasted his kick over the bar. Yerry Mina also saw his kick saved by Martinez before Leandro Paredes, Miguel Borja and Lautaro Martinez scored to make it 3-2 to Argentina. Edwin Cardona’s penalty was saved by Martinez as Argentina emerged 3-2 victors from the shootout.
La Albiceleste now have a date with destiny as they will take on the Selecao of Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday with the Copa America title on the line. Both sides met in the last edition, with Brazil knocking Argentina out in the semifinals. Colombia will take on Peru in the loser’s final on Saturday.