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Copa America: Argentina beat Ecuador on penalties to enter semifinal

Copa America: Argentina beat Ecuador on penalties to enter semifinal
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Argentina players

HOUSTAN: Argentina defeated Ecuador 4-2 on penalties in the Copa America 2024 quarterfinals, securing their place in the semifinals for the fifth consecutive time.

Argentina will play the semifinal against the winner of the Venezuela vs Canada match, which will take place on Friday. The Semifinal match will be on July 9 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Despite the reigning champion's possession at the NRG Stadium, Ecuador was more dangerous, with the first three shots of the match, including a critical save by Emiliano Martinez on a Sarmiento shot.

Argentina's first good chances came through Enzo Fernandez: a header and a counterattack leading to a corner. From Messi's corner, Lisandro Martinez's second header, following Mac Allister's, was saved by Alexander Domínguez but had already crossed the goal line.

In the final play of the first half, a run by Nicolas Gonzalez gave Albiceleste a chance for a second goal, but the Ecuadorian defense managed to regroup and neutralise the threat. Scaloni's team went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.

The second half began with a slower pace but remained highly contested. In the 55th minute, Lautaro Martínez created an opportunity after a long ball from Dibu Martinez. The tournament's top scorer controlled it with his chest, turned, and narrowly missed with a left-footed shot just wide of Dominguez's goal.

Ecuador unsettled Argentina with wide play and earned a penalty after Rodrigo de Paul's handball, but Enner Valencia's shot hit the post, sparking Argentine celebrations. Felix Sanchez's team pushed forward but failed to create clear chances until stoppage time when Kevin Rodriguez's header from a Yeboah cross tied the match 1-1, the first goal Argentina conceded in the Copa America.

In the penalty shootout, Messi hit the crossbar, but Dibu Martinez saved shots from Mena and Minda. Julian Alvarez scored, securing Argentina's progress.

IANS
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