Lionel Messi misses penalty but Argentina still reach Copa America semi-finals

Augustin Markarian/Reuters

Argentina beat Ecuador on penalties to advance to the semi-finals.


Goalkeeper Amy Martinez was the hero Argentina as Albiceleste reached America’s Cup A 4-2 penalty shootout saw Ecuador draw 1-1 in the semi-finals.

Argentina led for most of the match in Houston, Texas, after Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez headed home from a corner on 35 minutes.

But Ecuador found an equalizer in stoppage time when Kevin Rodriguez saw his header into the bottom corner from Jan Yeboa’s whipped cross.

Three There was a wonderful chance to win the match minutes later, but Jordi Caicedo put his header wide of the post from just six yards out.

With no extra time, the match went straight to penalties and Lionel Messi missed the first attempt of the shootout, his Panenga effort hitting the top of the crossbar.

However, Martinez saved Ecuador’s next two penalties from Angel Mena and Alan Minda as Argentina scored their next four goals to avoid Messi’s embarrassment and book a place in the semi-finals, where they will face the winner of Friday’s quarter-final between Venezuela and Canada.

Martinez, who has developed a reputation as a penalty shoot out specialist, performed his trademark dance to brilliantly clear Minda’s spot kick.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper has faced 24 penalties for Argentina and conceded just 12 of them, including nine saves, according to the BBC.

Charlie Triplev/AFP/Getty Images

Lionel Messi misses his penalty in the shootout.

“I’m working to do this,” Martinez said after the game, according to the Argentine Football Association. “I do 500 dives per practice. We should always give our best, people deserve it.

“They made things very difficult for us. They played a great game, very physical. We knew they were going to be one of the toughest rivals in the cup, but I’m not ready to go home. This team deserves to go on.

“It’s special moments to be with our people, [a stadium] Full of Argentines. We didn’t play the game people wanted to see, but luckily we won.

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