Martinez saves Messi, Argentina in Copa shootout

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Argentina beat Ecuador 4-2 on penalties to move into the semi-finals of the Copa América on Thursday after goalkeeper Emi Martinez made two saves for the reigning champions in the shootout following a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

Lionel Messi allayed concerns about a hamstring injury to start the game and in the 35th minute the captain’s corner was flicked on by Alexis Mac Allister for Lisandro Martinez to score with a header to give Argentina a 1-0 lead.

Ecuador skipper Enner Valencia hit the post from the penalty spot before Kevin Rodriguez scored a stoppage-time equaliser to force the shootout. There is no extra time in Copa America knockout games apart from the final.

In the shootout, Messi clipped the crossbar with Argentina’s first effort, but Martinez saved Ecuador’s first two spot-kicks before Nicolas Otamendi scored the decisive penalty to book a semifinal spot. Argentina will next play either Venezuela or Canada.

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