Colombia had almost pulled the rabbit out of the hat but the night belonged to Argentina whose goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez dished out a heroic show and deny the neighbours. Brazil will meet Argentina in the final at Copa America.

Colombia qualified third from their group behind Brazil and Peru but managed to get through the quarterfinals thanks to a win on penalties against Uruguay after the match finished 0-0. The Cafeteros were undefeated against Argentina in their last three matches – including beating them in the 2019 Copa America; a streak that dates back to 2018.

It had been 20 years since Colombia have made it to the finals of the tournament when a 1-0 win over Mexico earned them their first title.

Colombia switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 and made one change in personnel after their penalty shootout victory over Uruguay, as Cuadrado returns to the line-up, displacing Muriel.

Argentina made two changes from their 3-0 win over Ecuador in the quarter-finals, with Acuna dropped for Tagliafico at left-back and Rodriguez in for Paredes in midfield.

Argentina’s authority was evident within four minutes of the game.

Lionel Messi took on and beat three defenders on his way into the Colombian penalty area, dropping his shoulder and squeezing past Mina and Munoz before chipping a cross into the centre of the area for Lautaro Martinez, whose header just misses the inside of the far post.

Three minutes later, Argentina were up and running.

Messi got onto the ball inside the penalty area with his back to goal, before picking his head up and cutting a pass back to Lautaro Martinez, who struck it at the first time of asking and found the back of the net.

The perfect start for the favourites, but Colombia would not bog down easily.

Emi Martinez was called into action immediately after the restart as a low cross from the left finds Cuadrado, who smashed a shot from close range – managing only to hit the goalkeeper in the chest.

It was Colombia’s turn to press high, looking to target Argentina’s right-back as they look to win the ball. It’s coolly done from Molina, who managed to shift his weight and fire a pass out to the left for Tagliafico which relieves the pressure.

A cross into the penalty area looking for Borre was cleared to the edge of the penalty area by Otamendi. Barrios got on the end of the loose ball and hammered a volley through a crowd of bodies, which clipped off the woodwork on its way out.

A Cuadrado corner found Mina, who rose high to make great contact with the ball with his head but the Everton defender can only put his effort off the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.

Before the break, Messi sent a corner to the edge of the six-yard box for Gonzalez, who managed to get a clean header to the delivery. The striker thought he had scored but the goalkeeper had other plans, stooping low to palm it up above his crossbar.

After the break, Luis Diaz picked up the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area after Chara’s cross was repelled and fired a shot towards goal, forcing a good diving stop from Emiliano Martinez.

In the meantime, Messi was injured who went down under the weight of a challenge by Fabra. The substitute caught the Argentina captain with his studs unintentionally during an attempt to shield the ball. It certainly wasn’t on purpose but it is a painful one. Much to Lionel Scaloni’s relief though, Messi looks able to continue after receiving treatment – a gutsy decision from Messi.

Messi was taken down for the third time in six minutes as Munoz caught the forward’s leg right in front of the referee during a driving run forward.

Argentina are holding it in midfield, moving Colombia from left to right as they look to weather the storm and fashion a chance of their own. Despite starting off as the better side, the majority of chances in the match have fallen to the Cafeteros.

A quick free-kick hit down the pitch caught Argentina napping, as Diaz latched onto the end of it, barreled into the penalty area ahead of Pezzella and managed to squeeze the ball into the far post with an off-balance shot hit from the byline – It was an absolutely incredible finish from the FC Porto winger.

The assist was clever from Cardona, who recognized the situation and took the set-piece quickly, caught Argentina off-guard.

Angel Di Maria goes charging through an empty midfield and ran down on goal, sidestepping the onrushing David Ospina in the process 30 yards from goal as the keeper was caught in no man’s land. He managed to get past the Napoli goalie and square a pass to Lautaro Martinez, who inexplicably failed to shoot first-time, allowing Mina to get a crucial block on the line.

How the score was still on level terms!

Di Maria’s fancy footwork on the edge of the box opened up some space, allowing an incisive pass to find Messi. The captain turned and fired a shot that goes behind the goalkeeper but off the post and out.

Colombia were off on a counter-attack following Messi’s set-piece, but Diaz is body-checked in the midfield at full-pelt by a backtracking Pezzella.

With no option for extra-time in Copa America, the match would be decided by penalties.

Argentina won by 3-2.

Emiliano Martinez was the hero as he blocked three spot-kicks, guessing correctly for four out of the five shooters.

In tears, Martinez said after the match he wanted to face the Brazilians in the final in the Maracana Stadium.


“It is a great team, the favourite. But we have a great coach, we have the best player in the world and we will try to win it,” he said

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