Messi labels Martinez as a 'phenomenon' after heroics in Copa America

Lionel Messi labels Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez a ‘PHENOMENON’ after his penalty shootout heroics in Argentina’s Copa America semi-final win over Colombia… with all focus now on Sunday’s final against rivals Brazil

  • Argentina progressed to the Copa America final on Tuesday in tense fashion 
  • Emiliano Martinez saved three Colombia penalties in the shoot-out triumph 
  • Lionel Messi, chasing his first Copa America title, was full of praise for Martinez
  • Argentina now face fierce rivals Brazil in Sunday’s showpiece in Rio de Janeiro 

Captain Lionel Messi has described goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez as a ‘phenomenon’ after his shoot-out heroics guided Argentina to the Copa America final. 

After the semi-final against Colombia on Tuesday night finished 1-1 after extra-time, Aston Villa shot-stopper Martinez saved three penalties as the Argentinians progressed via a 3-2 win in the shoot-out. 

And Messi, who scored his own spot-kick and is vying for his first Copa America triumph, lauded Martinez in the aftermath as all focus turns towards Sunday’s final against Brazil. 

Lionel Messi called Emiliano Martinez a ‘phenomenon’ after his heroics last night for Argentina

The keeper saved three spot kicks in the 3-2 shoot-out win, with one from Davinson Sanchez

‘We have Emi, who is a phenomenon,’ Messi said. 

‘We trusted him. We achieved the goal of being able to play all the games and now we are going to the final.’ 

Martinez only made his national team debut last month after impressing in the Premier League with Villa, but has been trusted with the No 1 spot since the opening match.

Head coach Lionel Scaloni praised Martinez’s shoot-out performance too, as well as the command he has over the Argentina defence. 

Argentina now progress to Sunday’s final against fierce rivals Brazil in Rio de Janeiro

‘We are very happy with Emiliano’s performance, not only because of the penalties, but also because of the security that he is transmitting,’ he said. 

‘The group of defenders is permanently supported and we like that.’ 

Now all eyes turn towards the final on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro at the Maracana, where Argentina will face fierce rivals Brazil.

Messi has three times been a runner-up in the competition but has never won South American football’s most illustrious prize. 

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