Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero as Argentina defeated Colombia on penalties on Tuesday to arrange a dream Copa America last towards Brazil.
Argentina stopper Martinez saved three penalties within the shoot-out after a bruising 1-1 attract Brasilia.
Hosts Brazil beat Peru 1-0 in Monday’s first semi-final which means their star ahead Neymar will line up towards Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Saturday at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium.
Two years in the past a Brazil crew lacking the injured Neymar knocked out Argentina within the semi-finals earlier than successful their ninth Copa title on dwelling soil.
For Messi, 34, time is operating out to win a primary main worldwide title along with his nationwide crew, having beforehand misplaced in three Copa finals and the 2014 World Cup last.
For as soon as he wasn’t his nation’s fundamental hero, though he did create the opening purpose for Lautaro Martinez on seven minutes, earlier than Luis Diaz equalized simply after the hour mark.
In the shoot-out, goalkeeper Martinez 3 times dived to his left to avoid wasting penalties from center-backs Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina, in addition to midfielder Edwin Cardona.
And though Rodrigo De Paul skied his penalty for Argentina, Messi — who completed with blood seeping visibly from his left ankle — was amongst the scorers to present them a 3-2 victory on spot-kicks.
Saving penalties “is a question of luck and today it was my turn to be the glorious one,” mentioned Martinez.
“We said it the first day, we want to play the final and what better than playing Brazil on their pitch.”
Argentina and Colombia had been truly presupposed to be joint hosts however South American soccer’s governing physique CONMEBOL switched venues on the eleventh hour as a result of coronavirus pandemic and social unrest in Colombia.
Despite the defeat, Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda was feeling constructive, saying their efficiency “invites us to dream, to think we’re on the right path.”
“We should lift our heads, look each other in the eyes and know we have nothing to reproach ourselves about,” he added.
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Fast Argentina begin
Messi produced some early magic to beat three gamers and cross for Martinez to move broad.
Colombia didn’t heed the warning and on seven minutes, Giovanni Lo Celso discovered Messi within the field, the diminutive star held off the enormous Mina and picked out Martinez to fireplace into the far nook.
Colombia virtually hit again instantly however goalkeeper Martinez was down rapidly to maintain out Juan Cuadrado’s low strike.
After Argentina’s quick begin, Colombia began to dominate and Cuadrado despatched a free-kick simply over the bar.
The Cafeteros cranked up the strain and hit the woodwork twice in fast succession.
After Wilmar Barrios’s half-volley deflected off Lo Celso’s hand and struck the submit, Mina headed the ensuing nook onto the bar.
But Argentina had been a whisker away from doubling their benefit on the stroke of half-time when Nicolas Gonzalez powered a header from a Messi nook goalwards, with Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina one way or the other scooping the ball over the bar.
Di Maria impression
Colombia remained the higher facet after the break with Duvan Zapata having a shot blocked and substitute Miguel Borja firing broad.
But they deservedly equalized on 61 minutes when Cardona took a fast free-kick from inside his personal half and despatched Diaz scampering away to carry off German Pezzella and dink a intelligent end over Martinez.
Argentina introduced on Angel Di Maria for Gonzalez and the difficult winger instantly introduced extra urgency to his facet’s assault.
But Di Maria and Martinez contrived to butcher a wonderful probability to present Argentina the lead once more.
Daniel Munoz’s wayward again cross despatched Di Maria scampering in direction of purpose. He dribbled spherical Ospina and teed up Martinez whose shot was blocked on the road by Barrios earlier than Di Maria blazed the rebound over.
Di Maria then performed in Messi who thudded a shot off the submit earlier than De Paul’s comply with up was charged down by Sanchez.
Messi shot a late free-kick into the wall however after the 90 minutes had been up, it was Martinez who took middle stage.