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Copa America 2024: Martinez stars for Argentina again with shootout heroics

The Argentina goalkeeper pulled out his signature dance after saving a number of penalties.

Argentina's Emiliano Martinez

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was a hero for his country again as his side beat Ecuador on penalties in the 2024 Copa America.

The reigning champions looked to be safely through to the semi-finals in stoppage time, only for Kevin Rodriguez to net a 91st-minute equaliser.

Lisandro Martinez had previously put Argentina ahead 35 minutes in, but it was a closely contested match all night.

The two teams could not be separated after extra time and it fell to penalties to decide who would progress.

Lionel Messi missed the first penalty, but it would not matter as Martinez was on peak form to deny Ecuador on more than one occassion.

He celebrated by pulling out his signature dance move that we saw at the 2022 World Cup.

And the adrenaline-filled Aston Villa stopper admitted after the match he was not ready to go home.

He said: “They made it very difficult for us. They played a great game, very physical.

“We knew they were going to be one of the toughest opponents in the cup.

“I wasn’t ready to go home. This group deserved to go on.

“I work to do this. I dive 500 times per training session. We have to give our best because the people deserve it.”

Team-mate Rodrigo De Paul was among those to praise the team’s goalkeeper.

He added: “We have an animal in goal. What he is doing is crazy. He deserves it.

“He loves these colours. He gives us a lot of security and peace of mind.”

Argentina will face either Venezuela or Canada in the semi-finals and could set up a final against either Uruguay or Brazil.

Head coach Lionel Scaloni was pleased with his side’s efforts and gave credit to Ecuador for their difficult setup.

He said: “We faced a very difficult team, very tough physically. We could have scored more goals in the first half. The second half was difficult, cut short.

“I’m happy for (goalscorer) Lisandro (Martinez), he played a good game. He was tired and I decided to take care of him (with his substitution).

“Our team is strong. At times they subdued us, but our team always reacts, regardless of whether we play well or badly.

“In the penalties, the team felt a blind trust in their goalkeeper. He is indispensable. When he saves penalties, it reverberates in the stadium.”

Picture of Mitch Fretton

Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.