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With Martinez’s draw, Argentina beat Ecuador and reach the semi-finals of the Copa America.

With Martinez’s draw, Argentina beat Ecuador and reach the semi-finals of the Copa America.

Martinez’s drawing is a handicap. There is no way to describe the Argentine goalkeeper, perhaps the best in the world, and certainly one of the greatest in the history of the Albiceleste. For the man from Mar del Plata, the team Lionel Scaloni Defeated on penalties Ecuador And advanced to the semi-finals of Copa America 2024.

From the start, the Albiceleste found themselves in an area that has been almost unexplored in recent years: La Tre passed them by in the first 15 minutes. Scaloni’s team was constantly overwhelmed, generally on the right, and struggled on three occasions.

Moi Caicedo was unable to finish the first half comfortably, but the standout was Jeremy Sarmiento, who made a superb save from Depo with his left foot, recalling his feat in Lusail. Despite having more possession, the defending champions were not on the pitch, and Felix Sanchez Bas’s men looked more energetic, winning the league and searching with conviction for the opponent’s goal.

However, as the minutes ticked by, Argentina began to settle in and levelled the game based on the work of midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Enzo Fernandez, the latter of whom was not very accurate in his finishing. It was the Chelsea midfielder in particular who had the first clear idea, with a header and a shot that was blocked by the defence.

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And from that ball that led to a corner kick, came the opening goal for the Albiceleste: Messi, unknown, not very active, perhaps bothered by the muscle injury he suffers in the right adductor, sent a cross to another near post that Mac Allister combed and Licha Martínez was found at the far post. The defender headed it in, and although Alexander Dominguez cleared the ball, it (clearly) went in full into the Ecuadorian goal.

In this way, perhaps without achieving many advantages, but taking advantage of the moment and showing off its hierarchy, Argentina advanced in Houston, in Martínez’s first goal with the national team.

The world champions struck in a key part of the match and started the second half looking to finish the game off (Messi, from the right, had a key, but his shot was weak), but Ecuador resisted the (few) attacks of the Albiceleste and had an unbeatable chance to start, a penalty by Rodrigo De Pauw. However, while De Pauw was looking to grow bigger, Enner Valencia hit the post and Argentina maintained the advantage.

The game then became contested, frictional and without any play involved. Ecuador pressed with more desire than clarity, throwing all their attackers on the field, and Argentina defended themselves by adding centimetres and seeking to have possession of the ball, which cost them all night.

In this context, when it seemed they had pulled off a hard-fought win, the score was 1-1. Latre took a quick free-kick, John Yeboah crossed and Kevin Rodriguez, one of Ecuador’s tanks, headed the ball home to equalise. After a long VAR review, Uruguayan referee Andres Matonte, who had a very poor night, correctly confirmed the goal.

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And in penalties draw. Draw, draw, and always draw. Messi, in one of his weakest performances for the national team, bit him and his shot hit the crossbar. But Martínez saved Angel Mena’s shot and, after Julian Álvarez had scored, sent it to Allan Menda. Then they exchanged goals in order, Mac Allister, Yeboah, Gonzalo Montiel and Jordi Caicedo, before Nicolás Otamendi, one of the great references, decided the series and unleashed River Plate madness.

As already happened during the Copa America, Argentina did not play well. Unlike many sections of the Scaloni era, he was not comfortable, dancing for long moments to the rhythm of Latri, who was a worthy opponent, with power and forward attacks that complicated the Albiceleste defence. But he is also the best team in the world because of his names, including the Aston Villa goalkeeper.

Scaloneta’s opponent will be determined on Friday from 10pm (ARG). Venezuela and CanadaThe Group B leader and the Group B runner-up, respectively, face off in Arlington, Texas. The semi-finals will be played on Tuesday, July 9 in New Jersey (9 p.m. Argentina time).

On the other hand, looking for the semi-finals, Colombia vs Panama and Uruguay vs Brazil will be a football-filled Saturday.