Emiliano Martinez penalty heroics sets up Argentina – Brazil final

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.…

Brazil beat Peru 1 – 0 and advance to Copa America Final

Brazil have stormed through to the Copa America Final yet again after a near flawless tournament, where they went undefeated through six games — scoring 12 goals and conceding just two in the process.

Eder Militao has not featured much in the last few games as Brazil head coach Tite has gone with Thiago Silva and Marquinhos at the back. Meanwhile Vinicius, until now, had played just 32 minutes in this tournament. Both players started this game on the bench, but did enter the game through a triple sub in the 84th minute when they, along with Fabinho, replaced Fred, Richarlison, and Renan Lodi.

Casemiro though, featured from the start, and played the full 90 minutes on the right side of a double pivot alongside Manchester United midfielder Fred. He was involved in several nice attacking sequences and one-touch passing plays in the first half as he combined well with Lucas Paqueta, Neymar, and Richarlison. Those four in particular were huge instigators in attack as Brazil carved Peru over and over again in the first half. Peru, defending in a 5-4-1, kept everyone behind the ball apart from striker Gianluca Lapadula. Thus, they struggled getting any attacks in transition, and even though they tried to stay compact defensively, struggled to limit space between the lines for Brazil’s runners to find space in. They also allowed both Casemiro and Fred to pick out all the passes they wanted without being pressured. Casemiro had two long distance stingers which forced saves from Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

Brazil opened the scoring though Paqueta in the 35th minute after some sorcery from Neymar.

Brazil looked set to steamroll a helpless Peru side. But at half-time, their head coach Ricardo Gareca made two subs to advance his team’s shape. Most notably, the entrance of attacking midfielder Raziel Garcia for one of his defenders provided some help for Lapadula in attack and immediately brought Peru back into the game. They got better opportunities in transition, were able to keep the ball better, and gave Casemiro — …

Messi leading the race to Golden Boot?

The 2021 edition of the Copa America is underway, and Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia are the four semi-finalists vying for the top prize.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi has been the standout performer in the competition with four goals and has also provided as many assists. Interestingly, it must be mentioned that Messi has never won the Golden Boot award at Copa America.

Messi needs four more goals to equal Norbeto Mendez (Agrentina) and Zizinho (Brazil)’s tally of 17 goals each, who are the all-time top scorers at Copa America.

He started the 2021 edition of the tournament in style with a gem of a free-kick against Chile before adding a couple against Bolivia in their last group game. In the quarterfinal against Ecuador, Messi was in sublime form as he provided two assists and scored at the death from a free-kick.

Messi is the only player with four goals to his name. There are 10 players who have scored twice in this competition however, only five are still in contention with their teams being in the semis.

Player Team Goals
Lionel Messi Argentina 4
Papu Gomez Argentina 2
Lautaro Martinez Argentina 2
Andre Carillo Peru 2
Gianluca Lapadula Peru 2
Neymar Brazil 2

The other players who have scored two goals are: Erwin Saavedra (Bolivia), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay) Ángel Romero (Paraguay), Ayrton Preciado (Ecuador) and  Eduardo Vargas (Chile)