Emiliano Martinez ‘wasn’t ready to go home’ after Messi missed penalty

News Desk
Emiliano Martinez came up clutch again
Emiliano Martinez came up clutch again

Emiliano Martinez said he was “not ready to go home” after producing two key penalty saves which earned Argentina a place in the Copa America semi-finals.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper saved from Ecuador’s Angel Mena and Alan Minda in a 4-2 penalty shootout win after Lionel Messi had missed Argentina’s first penalty. The match ended as a 1-1 draw in normal time.

“I wasn’t ready to go home,” said Martinez, who was full of praise for Ecuador.

“This team deserved to advance. They complicated us a lot. They played a great match, very physical. We knew they were one of the top rivals in Copa America.”

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni admitted he “did not enjoy the win”.

“Our goalkeeper came up clutch,” he said. “We have reached the semis and given the great level of performance of every national team, I think it’s a great achievement.”

Scaloni said he felt Messi, who missed the previous match due to a leg injury, “finished the match well”.

Ecuador coach Felix Sanchez Bas said the performance had shown his team “can compete against any opponent”.

“The quarter-finals had us playing against the most difficult opponent and I thought we delivered well,” he said.

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Normal time had ended 1-1, Kevin Rodriguez having equalised for Ecuador in the 91st minute and the underdogs still had to time to carve out a golden opportunity to snatch victory.

Ecuador enjoyed the best of the opening half hour, Jeremy Sarmiento forcing an early save from Martinez while Angelo Preciado clipped Enner Valencia’s cross over the bar.

Gradually, Argentina started to assert some control and went ahead after 34 minutes as Messi’s corner was flicked on and Lisandro Martinez was left unmarked to head in at the back post.

They missed a golden chance to double the lead before the break as Enzo Fernandez fired wide after Ecuador lost possession at the back.

But Ecuador again started the second half strongly, Enner Valencia sending Martinez the wrong way from the spot only to roll his effort against the post after Rodrigo De Paul was ruled to have handled a deflected corner.

Ecuador continued to press. but had to wait until stoppage time before equalising as Rodriguez glanced his header from John Yeboah’s cross into the net – the goal standing after a lengthy VAR check for offside.

They could have clinched the win in the remaining time, Jordy Caicedo heading wide as he arrived late to meet a cross.

With no extra-time, the match headed to penalties and Messi’s cheeky chip down the middle only found the top of the bar.

But Martinez came to his rescue, saving from Angel Mena and Alan Minda and there was no coming back for Ecuador.