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Friday, July 5, 2024

Argentina ‘keeper Martínez elevates cult-hero standing once more

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When a staff triumphs, supporters rapidly credit score the offensive gamers for his or her efforts on the pitch and the coach for the tactical administration over the course of the 90 minutes. However a goalkeeper’s efficiency, regardless of how nice, typically goes unnoticed.

Emiliano Martínez, nevertheless, leaped into the highlight within the Copa América quarterfinals on Thursday to place apart any chance of being labeled unsung or underrated.

His Argentina aspect had virtually secured the ticket to the semifinals in common time, passionately defending a 1-0 scoreline for almost all of the match. Then Kevin Rodríguez scored for Ecuador in stoppage time to make it 1-1 and drive a penalty shootout.

For a second, silence fell upon NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas earlier than the referee confirmed the aim to ship the few Ecuadorian followers right into a frenzy, whereas the overwhelmingly pro-Argentina contingent stood in astonishment. Just like the finals in 2015 and 2016 and semifinal in 2021, La Albiceleste‘s Copa América destiny could be determined by spot kicks.

Argentina’s not-so-secret weapon, “Dibu” Martínez, positioned himself between the posts and instilled confidence when the staff wanted it most.

However up till Lisandro Martínez‘s header had given Argentina the lead within the thirty fifth minute, the offensive line had overshadowed the efforts of the defence. “Dibu” might solely have made one save within the sport, however he did play an vital position throughout common time, preserving his clear sheet virtually till the tip as Ecuador persistently attacked Argentina’s aim.

Argentina did not really want “Dibu” when Ecuador obtained a penalty for a handball in common time on 62 minutes, with Enner Valencia‘s try hitting the put up earlier than the following-up Piero Hincapié was penalised for encroaching into the world when his effort deflected for a nook.

It was within the penalty shootout that the Aston Villa goalkeeper actually stepped as much as the plate, as he has finished so typically earlier than. On the Copa América in 2021, he made three stops in a semifinal shootout in opposition to Colombia to clinch the ticket to the ultimate — the place they beat arch-rivals Brazil 1-0. Then, a 12 months later on the World Cup, Martínez grew to become a nationwide hero. First, he made two saves in opposition to Netherlands within the quarterfinals for a 4-3 shootout success, then within the ultimate vs. France he was iconic.

After arguing with there referee to delay Kingsley Coman from taking France’s second spot kick, Martínez dived low to his proper to maintain it out. Argentina gained the shootout 4-2 as “Dibu” helped to elevate the World Cup for the primary time since 1986.

The followers celebrated each save in Qatar, however nonetheless it is the attacking gamers that proceed to be printed on each flag, displayed on each poster and worn on jerseys. Any supporter bearing the goalkeeping equipment at this match would have been swamped by a sea of white and child blue. However once more on Thursday evening, Martínez demonstrated as soon as and for all why a talented goalkeeper might be simply as priceless as any discipline participant.

The coin flip at NRG Stadium dictated La Albiceleste would shoot first. Captain Lionel Messi walked as much as the spot, and rocketed the ball in opposition to the crossbar to carry again the ghosts of 2016, when he missed the primary kick within the ultimate loss to Chile. Argentina briefly misplaced hope, seeing the sunshine dim with every of Messi’s slow-paced steps again to the midfield.

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However Martínez rapidly introduced the spark again into the supporters’ eyes when diving to save lots of from Ángel Mena. He then managed a second cease when Alan Minda stepped up, inciting a louder response from followers.

As soon as Nicolás Otamendi nailed the deciding strike, gamers that after kneeled collectively within the midfield exploded into completely different instructions. Martínez ran to hug his teammates, danced in entrance of followers seated behind the aim and signaled for extra cheers after propelling Argentina to life but once more.

Many burst into tears as La Albiceleste figures embraced one another. Then, whatever the missed try by the captain or the decisive strike by defender Otamendi, the compliments started flowing in for “Dibu.”

“I’m not a goalkeeping coach, however when a goalkeeper makes an attempt to make a penalty save they could contact the ball however ‘Dibu’ assaults them. He makes noises when he stops them,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni mentioned. “Higher that he is Argentine.”

Messi added: “‘Dibu’ is at all times there, in these moments he turns into huge. Within the penalties we had a whole lot of religion, even earlier than the match he joked that we needs to be calm if there have been penalties. He at all times has it in his thoughts.”

Otamendi mentioned: “We now have an animal that’s ‘Dibu,’ who is ready for the important thing moments. Not simply the penalties however in the important thing moments.”

“We now have an animal between the posts,” Rodrigo De Paul echoed.

The dialog surrounding the goalkeeper continued, as his identify creeped into article headlines, tv recap exhibits and social media posts made by supporters.

The goalkeeper succeeded in making his identify synonymous with Thursday evening’s triumph. The sport-changing efforts of “Dibu” impressed Argentina to clinch a spot within the semifinals, maximizing the significance of his ability and place. Although no staff plans to be ready to make the goalkeeper probably the most priceless participant on the pitch, Martínez stands as a reminder that the position can not stay undervalued.

“I work for this,” the goalkeeper mentioned.

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