Argentina qualifies for Copa America semi-finals thanks to ‘lucky kicks’

World champions Argentina needed penalties to reach the semi-finals of the Copa America, beating Ecuador 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Houston, Texas.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi dispelled any doubts about his hamstring injury, starting from the start and in the 35th minute taking a corner kick that Alexis Mac Allister turned into Lisandro Martinez, who headed Argentina’s first goal.

From a penalty kick, the ball hit the post of Ecuador captain Enner Valencia before Kevin Rodriguez scored the equaliser in stoppage time, forcing the penalty shootout to decide the result.

Messi missed the first penalty kick, before his goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved him by blocking two kicks.

In the knockout stages of the Copa America, teams do not play extra time to decide the result except in the final match.

In the decisive penalty shootout, Messi’s ball hit the crossbar, but goalkeeper Martinez saved Ecuador’s first two penalties before Nicolas Otamendi scored the decisive kick to secure Argentina’s semi-final appearance.

Argentina will meet the winner of the match between Venezuela and Canada on Tuesday in the semi-finals at East Rutherford Stadium in New Jersey.

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