- Lionel Messi is full of praise for Emiliano Martinez after sending Argentina to the Copa America final
- La Albiceleste edged Colombia to semifinal victory after beating The Tricolors 3-2 on penalties after playing 1-1 in 120 minutes
- Lionel Messi and his teammates will now face hosts Brazil for a chance to lift the title for the first time in his career
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Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez singlehandedly inspired Argentina to Copa America final after saving three penalties during shootouts against Colombia.
Both sides had played a 1-1 draw after extra time in their crucial semifinal encounter played on Wednesday, July 7.
Lautaro Martinez powered La Albiceleste ahead after just seven minutes of action at the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia with Lionel Messi responsible for the assist.
But Luis Diaz’s 61st-minute strike leveled parity for The Tricolors and the scoreline remained that way even after the 30 minutes extra minutes and the winner was decided via spot-kicks.
After his heroics, Messi showered praises on his side’s goalkeeper as they shift focus to the all-important match of the tournament against Brazil on Sunday, July 11.
The Selecao had booked their spot in the final following their 1-0 triumph over Peru in the first semifinal of the competition.
What Lionel Messi said about the Aston Villa goalkeeper
“We have Emi, who is a phenomenon. We trusted him. We achieved the goal of being able to play all the games and now we are going to the final.”
Daily Mail reports that Martinez made his national team debut last month and he has been Argentina’s number one since the Copa America kicked off.
His impressive displays in the Premier League last season must have earned him the coach’s confidence going into this summer’s championship.
Lionel Scaloni also has some nice comments for Martinez after his shoot-out performance, as well as the command he has over the Argentina defence.
Lionel Scaloni commends Martinez after heroics vs Colombia
“We are very happy with Emiliano’s performance, not only because of the penalties but also because of the security that he is transmitting. The group of defenders is permanently supported and we like that.”
The coach added that they are now shifting their attention to the final billed for Maracana Stadium – where Messi had ended up as runners-up three times in the competition.
He will however be aiming to break the jinx this time around and lead his national team to their first silverware in years.
Argentina reach Copa America final after Colombia win
Legit.ng earlier reported that Argentina advance to the final of Copa America for the first time since 2016 after beating Colombia 3-2 on penalties at the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia on Wednesday, July 7.
The cracker stretched into shootouts after neither side could show superiority with the game ending in a 1-1 draw in the normal regulation period and by extension, the extra minutes.
La Albiceleste got the game off to a bright start with Lionel Messi combining well with Lautaro Martinez to hand the Argentine side the lead just seven minutes into the encounter.