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Copa America : Messi misses, but Argentina beats Ecuador

Lionel Messi needed his Argentine teammates to bail him out, and the world champions delivered for their all-time captain.

Messi missed his penalty kick in a shootout, but Argentina outlasted Ecuador 1-1 (4-2 in penalty kicks) in their Copa America quarterfinal match Thursday night at NRG Stadium in Houston to advance to the semifinal.

Argentina will meet the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between Venezuela and Canada at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The semifinal will be played July 9 inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA Today.

Messi walked up with the ball in his hand, lined up Argentina’s first kick to set the tone. And he missed it. His plan to chip it down the middle was ideal, but the ball hit the crossbar and went over the net.

But Messi’s miss didn’t discourage the Argentine national team, the defending Copa America 2021 and World Cup 2022 champions. They’ve been in much more adverse situations before, and they delivered for Messi.

Julian Alvarez, Alexis Mac Allister, Gonzalo Montiel and Nicolás Otamendi scored in the penalty round, while Argentina’s fierce and outlandishly celebrating goalkeeper Dibu Martinez kept Ecuador at bay with just two penalties scored by John Yeboah and Jordy Caicedo.