Rio de Janeiro: Emiliano Martinez denied Colombia thrice during the penalty shootout to help Argentina set up a Copa America 2021 summit clash with arch-rivals Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday. The defending champions Brazil made their way into the final after getting better of Peru 1-0 the other day.
Lionel Scaloni’s men looked sharp from the beginning and it took them only seven minutes to take the lead. Rodrigo De Paul found Lionel Messi inside the penalty area and the Barcelona star provides Lautaro Martinez to slot home. It was also Messi’s fifth assist of the tournament.
Messi: "We knew it was going to be hard and we knew they were going to come after us. They also scored. But in pens we were confident because we had a beast in goal. We know that he would at least make two saves, and he did not disappoint."— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 7, 2021
Luis Diaz cancelled the Argentine lead 16 minutes after the break after a couple of shots from Juan Cuadrado hit the post. Argentina missed out on their supreme chance of securing the match within the regulation time after Messi’s shot hit the right post from a short distance at 81st minute.
But the hero of the match has to be Aston Villa goalie Martinez, who blocked Yerry Mina, Edwin Cardona and Davinson Sanchez to see his team through. “It (Brazil) is a great team, the favourite. But we have a great coach, we have the best player in the world and we will try to win it,” said Martinez after the tie.
Messi was also all in praise for the custodian. “We knew it was going to be hard and we knew they were going to come after us. They also scored. But in pens we were confident because we had a beast in goal. We know that he would at least make two saves, and he did not disappoint,” said Messi, according to commentator Juan Arango.