Lionel Messi has showered praise on Emiliano Martinez, labelling his Argentina team-mate a “phenomenon” after he saved three penalties to send the nation to the Copa America final.
Lionel Scaloni’s men were forced to book their ticket at the Maracana for the Copa America showpiece against Brazil via penalties after Colombia halted them 1-1 in normal time, with Lauturo Martinez’s opener being cancelled out on the hour mark by Luis Diaz.
CLICK HERE to claim. 18+ only. Place £5 in bet builders at odds of at least 1/2 (1.5).Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. Free bets are valid for 30 days and must be used on a Sportsbook market. Free bets will be awarded after the qualifying bet has been settled. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.
Colombia progressed to the semis after beating Uruguay on penalties, but they were unable to replicate those sudden-death heroics in Brasilia as Martinez produced saves against Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona.
They have subsequently set up a date in Rio de Janeiro with hosts Brazil on Sunday for continental silverware, with the narrative set to be dominated once again by Messi’s continued search for that ever-elusive international trophy.
The Barcelona legend has made it to the Copa America final on three previous occasions, losing each one, but perhaps the emergence of Martinez as a reliable shot-stopper could swing the momentum in Argentina’s favour, with the Aston Villa man being labelled a “phenomenon” by his team-mate.
“We have Emi, who is a phenomenon,” Messi said after the match.
“We knew that he was going to stop them. We know and trust him. He deserves it.
18+ ONLY, NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY, FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY, 5p MINIMUM STAKE, 3 x £10 BET TOKENS, FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS, FREE BETS EXCLUDE VIRTUALS, FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE, NO FREE BET EXPIRY, ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS AND FURTHER T&CS APPLY, BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG.
18+ only. New customers only. UK only. Deposit £20 to receive free bets of £40. Free bets credited as four equal free bets of £10 each. All free bets unlocked when a total of £20 in of sports bets are placed and settled within qualifying period of 7 days. Minimum deposit amount is £20. Promotion T&Cs apply. Standard T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.
18+ only. New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from acceptance (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.
18+ only. A £10 Sportsbook free bet plus a £10 Exchange free bet. Min £5 bet on the SBK, min odds 1.5 (1/2). Rewards valid for 7 days. Free bets must be placed at min odds of 1.5 (1/2). Exchange free bet limited to certain markets. Payment restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.
“We achieved the goal of being able to play all the games and now we are going to the final.”
Scaloni added: “We are very happy with Emiliano’s performance, not only because of the penalties, but also because of the security that he is transmitting.”
Martinez at Villa
Having failed to cement a consistent starting berth at Arsenal during his decade-long stint in north London, Martinez sought regular playing time at Aston Villa last summer, where he has since gone on to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most competent shot-stoppers.
In 2020/21, Martinez kept 15 clean sheets while producing 142 saves, which placed him exactly third for each category in the English top-flight, sitting just below Ederson (19) and Edouard Mendy (16) for the former, and Sam Johnstone (166) and Aaron Ramsdale (147) for the latter.
At £20m the initial price tag appeared steep for a player who had appeared just 15 times in 10 years for the Gunners in the Premier League, but he has easily trebled that figure in less than 12 months, more than vindicating the heavy sum the Villans couriered to the capital.