Penalty hero Martínez: 'I wasn't ready to go home'


Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez declared he “wasn’t ready to go home” after saving his country in a penalty shootout against Ecuador in Thursday’s Copa América quarterfinal.

Despite Lionel Messi’s penalty miss for Argentina, the World Cup-winners prevailed thanks to Martínez’s two saves in the shootout following a 1-1 draw.

“I dive 500 times a day in every training session to be able to perform,” an emotional Martínez said. “I work for this, I always try to be at my best level to give everything for this national team.

“I am proud, happy for all this. I told the guys I wasn’t ready to go home. Even though we are World Champions and Copa América holders, this group deserved to continue.

“We have been here for 35 days, fighting for this. I am happy we have progressed. They played a great game, very physical. We knew they would be one of the toughest rivals in the Copa América.”

Martínez, 31, celebrated with the same hip-thrusting dance that he exhibited after his impressive performance during the 2022 World Cup final against France.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was key to the Albiceleste lifting the trophy in Qatar, with two saves in the decisive shootout following a 3-3 draw after extra time.

Argentina captain Messi said he knew Martínez would deliver again.

“I knew that Dibu [Martínez] is always in these moments, he likes these moments, he becomes great,” Messi said.

“Besides, he is great when he is in goal. It is complicated [for opponents], he is very fast, he had a lot of faith, even before the game he was saying with us at the possibility that if there were penalties we had to be calm. It is fortunate that when we get to this point [a penalty shootout] we have an advantage.”

Messi, 37, who broke the record for most minutes played in the tournament’s history against Ecuador, could not hide his disappointment after his failed panenka spot-kick hit the crossbar in Argentina’s opening penalty in the shootout.

The Inter Miami forward started the quarterfinal despite being an injury doubt after missing their final group match against Peru because of a hamstring problem.

“[There’s] a lot of anger,” Messi said. “I was convinced of kicking it like that. I had spoken with Dibu and with [Argentina’s backup goalkeeper Geronimo] Rulli, I had taken a couple of penalties aiming for the corners but I hadn’t practiced [the panenka]. In fact the [Ecuador] goalkeeper (Alexander Domínguez) had dived across and I tried to touch it but it went too high.”

Argentina will face the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between Venezuela and Canada in the semifinals on Tuesday.



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