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'I wasn't ready to go home' says Argentina's Copa shootout hero Emi Martinez

Emi Martinez has won all four penalty shootouts he has been involved in with Argentina
Emi Martinez has won all four penalty shootouts he has been involved in with ArgentinaReuters
Emiliano Martinez (31) grabbed the chance to be Argentina's saviour in their Copa America shootout win over Ecuador on Thursday as the goalkeeper made two key saves and picked his team up off the floor after captain Lionel Messi (37) had missed the first spot-kick.

After the match ended 1-1, Martinez's saves from Angel Mena and Alan Minda put Ecuador on the back foot and set the platform for defending champions Argentina to reach the semi-finals.

Martinez had pumped up the crowd earlier in the quarter-final when Ecuador skipper Enner Valencia missed a penalty, and the keeper said he made it clear to his teammates before the shootout that defeat was not an option.

"I told the boys I wasn't ready to go home. They weren't either," added Martinez after being named Player of the Match. "We are champions of the world and of (South) America, this team deserved to go on.

"I got a bit carried away by the crowd, because we had the Argentines here and also my family nearby.

"We didn't give the game that people wanted to see, but in the end we won."

Martinez had every right to be confident in the shootout. The shotstopper has now won all four he has been involved in with Argentina - including the 2022 World Cup final where they beat France.

"I work for that, I throw myself 500 times a day in training," Martinez added.

"I try to be at my best level for the national team because the country deserves it, the people who spend their money to come and watch us."

Rodrigo De Paul said his teammate deserved the plaudits after another stellar performance in a shootout.

"The truth is that what he's doing is crazy, he deserves it. He loves wearing these colours," De Paul said.

"He gives us a lot of security and peace of mind. We try to do the same for him, but in these important moments he is always there."

Argentina will face either Canada or Venezuela in the semi-finals as they look to claim a record 16th Copa title.

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