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Emiliano Martinez incredibly saves Argentina after Lionel Messi has Copa America shootout repeat

Argentina narrowly avoided disaster in the Copa America quarter-finals against Ecuador, nearly losing their lead before Kevin Rodriguez’s stoppage-time goal equalized the match at 1-1.

Moments later, Jordy Caicedo had a chance to clinch victory for Ecuador, but his wide-open header narrowly missed, setting the stage for a penalty shootout as there was no extra-time allowed at this stage of the tournament.

In the shootout, Lionel Messi attempted a Panenka but hit the crossbar, reminiscent of his infamous miss in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final, which led to a temporary international retirement.

Fortunately for Argentina, Emiliano Martinez saved two Ecuadorian penalties, allowing Argentina to advance. Martinez, already a hero for his penalty-stopping prowess in the 2021 Copa America and the Qatar World Cup, further cemented his legendary status with this performance, much to Messi’s relief.

Messi’s 2016 miss had long haunted him, casting a shadow over his international career until he redeemed himself by winning the last Copa America and the World Cup.

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His former teammate Sergio Aguero had described Messi as utterly devastated after that miss. Now playing for Inter Miami in the MLS, Messi could only watch anxiously as another penalty misstep threatened Argentina’s progress.

However, Martinez’s heroics turned the tide, sparking celebrations among the Argentine contingent who had expected a simpler match against a team they typically dominate.

Following Messi’s miss, Julian Alvarez, Alexis Mac Allister, Gonzalo Montiel, and Nicolas Otamendi successfully converted their penalties.

During regular time, Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez scored by capitalizing on a header from Liverpool’s Mac Allister after a Messi corner.

Despite this early lead, Argentina’s performance was far from smooth. They conceded a second-half penalty, which Enner Valencia missed after sending Martinez the wrong way, before Rodriguez’s late equalizer brought the game to a tense conclusion.

Martinez’s shootout heroics may provide Argentina with a crucial lesson on maintaining control in matches.

They will now face either Canada or Venezuela in the semi-finals, with the prospect of a final clash against Brazil.

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