Lionel Messi gave Martinez a hug in appreciation following his three successful penalty saves.

Striker Lionel Messi smiled brightly when he reached out to Emilano Martinez to congratulate and thank him, after his teammate’s goalkeeper pushed two penalties to help Argentina overcome Ecuador in the 2024 Copa America quarterfinals.

Right after Nicolas Otamendi kicked the fifth kick in the penalty shootout, sealing a 4-2 victory for Argentina, Emilano Martinez lay down on the field for joy. At the same time, Messi rushed down from the middle of the field to thank his teammate.

The captain striker smiled with relief as he hugged Martinez. “He was always there, and shone in the moments we needed him the most. Even when the team lost the most confidence in the penalty shootout, he always reassured us, calmed us down. Martinez is always like that,” Messi said in a quick interview after the match.

Previously, due to a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes, and according to the Copa America 2024 rules, the two teams did not play extra time but decided the winner by a penalty shootout. Messi clasped his hands and looked up at the sky as if praying after the referee tossed a coin to determine Argentina kicked first in the tiebreaker.

Argentina’s captain striker hugged the ball to make the first shot. This is the 13th time Messi has received this heavy responsibility every time the home team has to decide a winner or loser by a penalty shootout.

Facing Alexander Domínguez from the 11m mark, Messi performed a panelka kick. The Ecuadorian goalkeeper guessed wrongly when he leaned over to his left hand, but the ball from Messi’s foot went lightly and found the crossbar and then went out.

Messi held his head in regret after missing a kick. According to Transfermarkt, this is only the 32nd time since the beginning of his top career that he has failed to successfully kick a kick from the 11-meter mark. The last time he missed this kick was in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland in the World Cup group stage on November 30, 2022. At that time, Messi faced Wojciech Szczęsny in the 39th minute and was blocked by the goalkeeper.

Messi returned to the center circle, but stood apart from his teammates as they all nervously looked toward the goal, waiting for the opponent’s first kick.

Facing Enner Valencia from the 11m mark, Emiliano Martinez leaned in the right direction and blocked the Ecuador captain’s kick. This goalkeeper shouted excitedly when teammate Lisandro Martinez ran to congratulate him.

Emi Martinez trấn an Messi sau khi cản quả luân lưu đầu tiên

On the way back to his position waiting to catch the second kick, Martinez pointed at Messi in the middle of the field, reassuring the captain. In response, Messi also raised his hand high as if to thank his teammate goalkeeper.

In the second kick, Martinez once again guessed the right direction, blocking Alan Minda’s kick from Ecuador’s side. These two successful saves by the goalkeeper wearing shirt number 23 contributed decisively to help Argentina win 4-2 in the tie-breaker series, after all four remaining teammates – Julian Alvarez, Alexis MacAllister, Gonzalo Montiel – were defeated. Otamendi – both successfully took their turn to kick.

Messi has not yet scored at Copa America 2024. He played the entire first match, contributing an assist when Argentina won 2-0 against Canada. In the second match, Messi had problems with his hamstrings, hurt his right thigh, limped several times and had to ask a doctor to massage him in the first half, but still played the entire match. He retired from the final match of the group stage, and was only determined by the Argentinian medical team to be physically fit after the final training session on July 4 to return to play Ecuador.

But when entering the match, Messi did not contribute much to the team’s play. The Ecuadorian player also kicked hard, significantly blocking Argeninta’s captain’s operating space. In the photo is the moment Messi (left) held his thigh and rolled around after being fouled by Ecuador.

In the whole match, he only touched the ball 32 times. According to Opta, this is Messi’s worst statistics in a match with Argentina in official tournaments (qualifiers, World Cup finals, and Copa America) in which he played the full 90 minutes since the 2011 Copa America.

Messi did not dribble past him once, only created one opportunity for his teammates to score, and once he himself failed to score a goal even though the situation was favorable. The 37-year-old superstar also lost three out of five duels, before missing the home team’s first penalty kick.

Messi nhảy múa cùng Argentina mừng chiến thắng

However, thanks to his teammates, especially the brilliant goalkeeper Martinez, Messi still enjoys joy. He stripped shirtless and gathered in a circle with his teammates, celebrating the victory. In the semi-finals on July 9, Messi and Argentina will meet the winner of the quarter-final match between Canada and Venezuela.

Màn trình diễn của Messi ở trận Argentina - Ecuador

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