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HOUSTON, TEXAS (SMI-GLOBAL-SPORTS-CONMEBOL COPA-AMERICA USA 2024)-FIFA World#1, & 15-time Copa America champions " Argentina " overcame Ecuador 4-2,
in penalty shootout, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez playing hero by stopping 2-shots,  and help " La Albiceleste" advance to semifinals rounds at NGR Stdium in Houston, Texas.

With the win, Argentina improves 12-5, overall record against Ecuador competing in Copa America tournaments.

Ecuador attacked first with two consecutive counter-attacks within a span of 2', that barely missed the back of the net in the first 15' minute of the game.

Midfielder Moises Caicedo during an offensive attack through the left-side field passed the ball to Jeremy Sarmiento back to Caicedo who crossed it back to Sarmiento inside the 18, and shot a right-footed but it bounced-off goalkeeper Maximiliano Martinez for a save at 14:30 mark. A minute later, in another counter-attack through the right-side field striker Enner Valencia received a long pass from the backfield to the penalty box, and who centered to defender Angelo Preciado who shot a right-footed volley that went over the crossbar at 16' mark.

After a midfielder Enzo Fernandez barely missed a goal with a header, Argentina opened the score at 35', mark when striker Lionel Messi centered a corner kick inside the 6-yard box to Alexis Mac Allister who headed-back to defender Lisandro Martinez and who scored with a header, to record his first goal with the Argentinian national team and put La Albiceleste 1-0, over Ecuador at the half.

In the second half, Ecuador went to the attack in search of the equalizer and on its 3rd corner kick Moises Caicedo centered the ball inside the 18, touching the hand of Argentina's midfielder Rodrigo De Paul for a penalty call but Enner Valencia missed the target bouncing-off the left-goalpost onto the field at 60' mark.

After both teams exchanged counter-attacks without any major danger at each other goals, and game clock winding down, Ecuadorian's John Yeboah centered the ball inside the penalty box, finding striker Kevin Rodriguez who scored the equalizer with a header at the left-side goalpost to tie the game 1-1, in stoppage time 90+1, and send the game into a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

In the penalty shootout, Argentina outscore Ecuador 4-2, with Messi missing the opening kick but goalkeeper Maximiliano Martinez saved the day for the Albiceleste by stopping  2-shots and Nicolas Altamendi scoring the winning goal in the penalty shootout for 4-2, win for Argentina. 

With the victory, Argentina advance to the semifinals to face either Venezuela or Canada next Tue July 09, at Metlife stadium in East Rutherford NJ.

Article & Photo by Marcello Cutti II/Starlight Illustrated



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