By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
Argentina have qualified for the Copa America final after defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout early on Wednesday.
The Lionel Messi-led side would face Brazil at the Maracana stadium on Sunday, 11 July.
Despite being the weaker side Argentina made a fast start, scoring after just seven minutes with a fantastic through ball from Messi to Lautaro Martinez who scored the opener.
After their lead, they were left to suffer as they retreated to defend their lead. Colombia who were the better side continued to dominate creating plenty of chances, hitting the woodwork twice and forcing goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez to make difficult saves.
The pressure continued into the first 15 minutes of the second half, and after a long ball from the back, Luis Díaz showed his pace to beat Pezzella and find the back of the net for the equalizer.
Argentina stepped up into the game in the final thirty minutes, took control of the ball and started to attack looking for the winner.
They came close to stealing the win when Colombia player, Muñoz gifted Ángel Di María the ball, but Lautaro Martínez missed one of the easiest chances of the game.
After the end of the match, there are no extra time in Copa America and the game went straight into penalties.
It was the turn of Argentine keeper, Emiliano Martinez to play the hero again, saving three penalty kicks.
Martinez, who tried to distract Colombia’s players in the shootout with a barrage of trash talk, saved from Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona.
Lionel Messi, Leandro Paredes and Lautaro Martinez scored for Argentina as they booked a spot against the host nation in Saturday’s final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.
“I’m speechless,” said Argentine keeper Martinez. “They took us to penalties and that’s a question of luck, today it was my turn for glory.”
Argentina are seeking to win their first major international title since lifting the Copa America in 1993.
Argentina are now unbeaten in 19 games, with their last loss coming to Brazil in the semi-final of the 2019 Copa America. They were also the last team to beat Brazil, in November 2019 when Messi got the only goal of the game in a friendly in Saudi Arabia.
Since then Brazil, who beat Peru 1-0 on Monday to reach the final, have won 12 and drawn one.