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Jul 4, 2024 11:24 pm

Argentina tops Ecuador in shootout to reach Copa semis

Copa America, Argentina, Ecuador

Argentina, despite the returning Lionel Messi missing in a penalty shootout, defeated Ecuador in Houston on Thursday to reach the semifinals of Copa America.

Nicolas Otamendi scored in the top of the fifth round to seal a 4-2 shootout victory.

The score in regulation was 1-1 after Kevin Rodriguez tied it for Ecuador in the first minute of second-half stoppage time with a header from about 10 yards after a cross by John Yeboah.

There is no extra time in Copa America until the final, so the match went directly to the penalty shootout.

Messi opened the penalties with a chip that struck the crossbar and went over the net. However, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stopped the first Ecuador two shooters, Angel Mena and Alan Minda.

The Rodriguez goal came nearly 30 minutes after Ecuador squandered a chance at a tying goal when Enner Valencia missed a penalty kick.

After Lisandro Martinez scored in the 35th minute, Valencia was given the opportunity from the spot in the 62nd minute after Rodrigo De Paul was called for a handball on a header by Alan Franco.

Valencia had Emiliano Martinez going the other way but rolled his shot weakly off the left post.

Argentina, the defending champion with a record 16th Copa America title in sight, will play in the semifinals on Tuesday in East Rutherford, N.J. The opponent will be either Venezuela or Canada, who face off on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

Messi sat out Argentina’s 2-0 win over Peru on Saturday in the final group match because of a right groin injury sustained in the previous match vs. Chile on June 25.

After barely touching the ball in the first 25 minutes, he made an impact 10 minutes later. He did not get an assist on the Lisandro Martinez goal but he factored in the result, nonetheless.

His corner kick from the right side was headed at the near post by Alexis Mac Allister to an unmarked Lisandro Martinez at the left frame for a header that landed a foot across the goal line.

–Field Level Media

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