Argentina reaches Copa America semifinals, beating Ecuador 4-2

Published at : 05 July 2024, 01:26 pm
Argentina reaches Copa America semifinals, beating Ecuador 4-2
Players of Argentina celebrate defeating Ecuador in a penalty shootout in a Copa America quarterfinal soccer match in Houston, Thursday, July 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Emiliano Martínez saved Argentina's bid for a second straight Copa America title after the Albiceleste conceded a tying goal to Ecuador in second-half injury time.

Martínez stopped shootout attempts by Ángel Mena and Alan Minda, and Argentina advanced to the Copa America semifinals with a 4-2 victory on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw Thursday night.

“I wasn’t ready to go home,” Martínez said. “This team deserved to advance. They complicated us a lot. They played a great match, very physical. We knew they were one of the top rivals in Copa America.”

Lionel Messi, returning from a leg injury that caused him to miss Argentina’s group-stage finale, put the first Albiceleste penalty kick off the crossbar, but the Albiceleste recovered and Nicolás Otamendi beat Alexander Domínguez with the winning kick.

“Our goalkeeper came up clutch," Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said through an interpreter.

Seeking its third straight major title, Argentina advanced to the semifinals for the fifth straight Copa America and will play Venezuela or Canada on Tuesday at East Rutherford, New Jersey. Argentina is looking to win a record 16th Copa America championship.

Playing in front of a pro-Argentinian crowd of 69,456 at NRG Stadium, Lisandro Martínez gave the Albiceleste a 35th-minute lead following Messi's corner kick.

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia put a penalty kick off a post in the 62nd minute after a hand ball by Rodrigo De Paul, but Kevin Rodríguez tied it in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.

With Argentina going first in the shootout, Messi tried a Panenka and hit the crossbar.

Martínez, the goalkeeper in Argentina’s shootout win over France in the 2022 World Cup final, stopped Mena by diving to his left and batting the ball with his trailing hand. He denied Minda by leaping right, then followed the save with a short dance.

Julián Álvarez and Alexis Mac Allister converted to put Argentina ahead 2-0, and John Yeboah made Ecuador’s third attempt.

Gonzalo Montiel gave Argentina a 3-1 lead, Jordy Caicedo converted to keep Ecuador alive and Otamendi got the winner, tucking the ball inside the post just past the outstretched arm of Domínguez.

Despite the victory, Scaloni said he “did not enjoy the win.”

“We have reached the semis, and given the great level of performance of every national team, I think it’s a great achievement," he said.

Lisandro Martínez had put Argentina ahead in the 35th minute with a header after Mac Allister headed on Messi’s corner kick. Rodríguez scored when he headed in John Yeboah’s cross.

“The quarterfinals had us playing against the most difficult opponent, and I thought we delivered well,” Ecuador coach Félix Sánchez Bas said through an interpreter. “We showed this team can compete against any opponent.”

Under Copa America regulations, the match went straight from the end of regulation to a shootout, without extra time.

Messi, who sustained the injury on June 25 against Chile, got a loud ovation when he entered the field 45 minutes before kickoff. He remained without a goal in three Copa games this year.

“I think he finished the match well,” Scaloni said. “We asked him how he was feeling for the last time four minutes before the end."



Mushfiqur to play for Fortune Barishal in BPL 2024

Published at : 24 September 2023, 03:42 pm
Mushfiqur to play for Fortune Barishal in BPL 2024

Bangladeshi wicketkeeper-batter Mushfiqur Rahim is set to feature for Fortune Barishal in the forthcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).


Mushfiqur had played for Sylhet Strikers in the last edition. His price was fixed at 80 lakhs in the players' draft according to the category. Which means he was in 'A' category.

The top category player will play along with other star players like Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, and Khaled Ahmed in Fortune Barishal.

Neymar quits PSG to sign for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:06 pm
Neymar quits PSG to sign for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal

Neymar said he was relishing “new challenges and opportunities in new places” after he joined Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal Tuesday, becoming the latest big name lured to the oil-rich Gulf state.

The Brazil forward, 31, ends a six-year stay in the French capital and follows in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane in swapping Europe for the Middle East.

“I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special times, but I have always wanted to be a global player and test myself with new challenges and opportunities in new places,” Neymar said in a statement from the Saudi Pro League.

“I want to write new sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League has tremendous energy and quality players at the moment,” he added.

Neymar ‘in negotiations’ over Saudi move as Mbappe returns to PSG good books

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:05 pm
Neymar ‘in negotiations’ over Saudi move as Mbappe returns to PSG good books

Neymar was “in negotiations” on Sunday to become the latest football superstar to decamp for Saudi Arabia, leaving Paris Saint-Germain just as Kylian Mbappe was brought back in from the cold by the French champions.

A source close to PSG told AFP that 31-year-old Neymar “no longer figures in the club or manager’s plans” with the Brazilian immediately linked to Al-Hilal in the Gulf kingdom.

Another source in Saudi Arabia said that “direct negotiations” between Neymar’s agents and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) were ongoing.

PSG get better of Dortmund in Champions League opener

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:03 pm
PSG get better of Dortmund in Champions League opener

Paris Saint-Germain got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday as a Kylian Mbappe penalty set them up for a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes.

The French champions had dominated the first half without overly troubling the Dortmund defence, but they went ahead four minutes after the break when Mbappe scored a spot-kick awarded for a Niklas Suele handball.

Achraf Hakimi added a memorable second, and PSG could have won the Group F encounter by a far more handsome margin in the end.

The result immediately puts them in control of the group, after AC Milan and Newcastle United drew 0-0 earlier, and coach Luis Enrique will hope they can build on this performance when they visit the English side next in a fortnight.

"It was an almost perfect evening," said Luis Enrique.