Argentina’s national team is now one step away from ending their international title drought after a thrilling Copa America 2021 semi-final win over Colombia in Brasilia on Tuesday night, July 6.
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, was the hero as he stopped three Colombia spot-kicks at Mane Garrincha Stadium setting up a mouth-watering final clash between Neymar and Lionel Messi.
Colombia were fighting to reach their first Copa America final after failing in their six previous semifinals.
At the beginning of the match, Columbia pressed on but Argentina took the early lead courtesy of a fine strike from Martinez after Giovanni Lo Celso linked up with Lionel Messi in the 7th minute.
Argentina then came close to scoring when Nicolas Gonzalez picked up a header from Lionel Messi’s corner-kick but he was denied by goalkeeper David Ospina from close range.
Colombia tried scoring through Cuadrado, but he was denied by Martinez from close range. Then, Wilmar Barrios tested Argentina’s defence with a bullet shot from the edge of the box that hit Martinez after getting a deflection off Lo Celso.
With added pressure, Colombia forced Argentina’s goalkeeper to produce another stunning save from a Mina header after a corner-kick.
In the second half, Argentina were caught out in the 61st minute with Luis Diaz scoring a nice goal after a brilliant run following Cardona’s release on the left.
Diaz beat Martinez from a tight angle to get the deserved equaliser.
In the 73rd minute, Argentina failed to take the advantage after Ospina left his post allowing Angel Di Maria to dribble past him. Di Maria then released the ball for Lautaro, whose shot at the goal was blocked by Barrios. Di Maria then sent the rebound wide.
Argentina got another chance to restore the lead in the 80th minute after Di Maria found Messi with a through ball. But Messi’s left-footed shot hit the right post.
Ten minutes later, Messi hit the wall from a free-kick, their last chance before heading for the penalty shoot-out.
Juan Cuadrado opened the shoot-out, beating Martinez. A bloodied Messi then buried Argentina’s first to make it 1-1. Martinez guessed correctly to block Davinson Sanchez’s kick and advantage Argentina. But Rodrigo De Paul failed to capitalise as he blazed over the bar. 1-1 after two kicks each.
Martinez produced another block, by leaping to his right to deny Yerry Mina. Leandro Paredes sent Ospina the wrong way to give Argentina a 2-1 lead after three kicks each.
Miguel Borja scored for Colombia but Lautaro Martinez, who opened the scoring during the open play in the seventh minute, made it 3-2 after four each. Martinez again blocked a penalty from Edwin Cardona.
Argentina won the shoot-out 3-2.
For Argentina, Sunday’s title clash against bitter rivals Brazil will be their 29th final. They last won the continental title in 1993, and lost the finals in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016. They had also finished third last term, after losing to Brazil in the semis.
Argentina (14) will become the joint-most successful side with Uruguay (15) if they beat Brazil. While Neymar’s Brazil are chasing their 10th title. They are the defending champions.