Emiliano Martinez established himself as Argentina’s number one goalkeeper in just a month, and on Tuesday he became a new national hero by saving three times in a shootout against Colombia in the Copa America semi-final.
With the score level 1-1 after 90 minutes, the Aston Villa goalkeeper’s heroics in the shootout advanced Argentina to the Copa America final, where they will face hosts and reigning winners Brazil.
Argentina’s star player, Lionel Messi, paid respect to Martinez.
“It was challenging at times,” he said. “But we have ‘Emi,’ who is incredible. We had faith in him. We’ve accomplished our goal of playing every game here, and now we’re in the final.”
Martinez had nothing to do in the first half but was outstanding in the shootout, diving at full stretch to stop goals from Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina, and Edwin Cardona.
He was also reprimanded by the referee for his nonstop sarcastic remarks directed towards Colombia’s players as they lined up to take their kicks.
The 28-year-old, who has previously played for Arsenal, Wolves, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, and Rotherham, made his international debut against Chile on June 3.
Argentina’s next encounter was against Colombia, and he was injured and taken off with the team ahead 2-0. Martinez was put back into the fray for the next game after the game ended 2-2.
Since then, he has performed admirably in a position that has been a source of frustration for Lionel Scaloni, surrendering only three times in six games.
Martinez, who may not have started at the Copa America if River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani had not tested positive for COVID-19, stated Argentina could no longer be stopped.
“We’ve been shut away for 40 days, not seeing anyone outside our bubble,” he remarked after the victory on Tuesday. “We declared from the beginning that we wanted to reach to the final, and what better way to do that than to play Brazil at home?”
“Brazil has a fantastic team, but we have the best in the world, and we intend to win.”