Messi calls Argentina's penalty-shootout hero Martinez a "phenomenon"

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Argentina Football Team (Photo: Argentine Football Association)
Argentina Football Team (Photo: Argentine Football Association)

Brasilia [Brazil], July 7 (ANI): Argentina striker Lionel Messi hailed goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez for his heroics in the Copa America semi-final clash against Colombia.

Martinez's heroic performance took Argentina to the final of Copa America as Lionel Scaloni's men edged past Colombia in penalties here at the Estadio Nacional do Brasilia Mane Garrincha on Tuesday (local time). The match ended 1-1 in regular time and they went straight to the shootout.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper, Lionel Scaloni emerged as an unlikely hero in the penalty shootout as he saved three of the five penalties he faced and booked Argentina's ticket for the final against Brazil.

"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," quoted Messi as saying.

This was Argentina and Colombia's third meeting in the Copa America semi-final. The first time was in 1993 (Argentina won on penalties and finished champions) and then in 2004 (Argentina won but lost in the final against Brazil).

Argentina is yet to be beaten in this year's competition. Lionel Scaloni's side finished top of their group with 3 wins and a draw against Chile. In the quarter-final, they won 3-0 against Ecuador to progress to the final 4.

La Albiceleste has reached the final in 4 of the last 6 editions but has not lifted the trophy in almost 30 years; they will hope to put an end to that run in 2021 when they face Brazil in the epic final at Maracana. (ANI)

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