Emiliano Martinez put forth a heroic, legendary performance in goal for Argentina on Tuesday, sending his team to the Copa America final with a 3-2 win on penalty kicks over Colombia. The match ended 1-1 and went straight to the shootout, and from there the trash-talking, hip-thrusting Aston Villa goalkeeper saved three of the five penalties he faced. His team did enough as Lionel Messi, Leandro Paredes and Lautaro Martinez finished their chances from the spot, setting up a dreamy Argentina-Brazil final on Saturday night.
The match started off with Argentina threatening from the opening whistle, taking just seven minutes to get their goal. Gio Lo Celso played a world-class ball into the box to the feet of Messi, who set up Lautaro Martinez for the opener.
Argentina maintained control of the match and felt like the most likely to get the second goal until halftime. That’s when Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda made three changes that gave his team some more technical ability and speed, and the problems began for the favorites.
Colombia continued to look like a threat against an underwhelming Argentina defense and made them pay dearly in the 61st minute. A quick free kick was played to send Luis Diaz through, and the Porto man did the rest, finishing from a title angle to equalize it.
But Argentina had their chances, missing two golden ones late in the second half. First, Martinez missed on a goal that was defended by just one defender as David Opsina was caught out, but his poorly taken effort was cleared with ease. Then it was Messi who was played into the box, turning and firing off the left post, resulting in the match going to penalties.
The favorites maintained their composure, with their goalkeeper putting together a brilliant display on how to dominate a shootout.
Argentina and Brazil will meet Saturday night at the legendary Maracana in Rio de Janeiro at 8 p.m. ET.