The Aston Villa goalkeeper made some stunning saves in the penalty shoot out to help Argentina beat Colombia.
Their tempo slowed down after the first goal as they decided to sit back while allowing Colombia to enjoy more possession.
Colombians got their equaliser through winger Luis Diaz, who proved to be a threat from the start.
Lionel Scaloni’s side had an easy chance to go up front once again, but goal-scorer Martinez squandered it, and the game proceeded to penalties.
Colombians found it hard to get past Emi Martinez, who made three stunning saves while Argentina were clinical from the spot – barring Rodrigo de Paul – and eventually came out victorious.
The win sets up a box-office clash with hosts and defending champions Brazil in the finals of Copa America.
Lautaro Martinez went from hero to villain
Lautaro Martinez looked like he had returned to his usual best after the early goal – the third of this tournament and the second top scorer behind Messi. However, he missed an easy chance in the second half after Angel Di Maria put it on a plate. With David Ospina caught upfield, the Inter striker had only a defender to beat but to no avail in the end. The game couldn’t have progressed to the penalties if Martinez had converted that chance.
Luis Diaz caused many problems for the Argentine defence
Luis Dias had an excellent game, although his side ended up on the losing side. The FC Porto winger was ready to pounce on all possible counter-attacks and proved to be a nuisance for the Argentine defenders. He eventually scored a brilliant goal to put Colombians on level terms. He certainly was on his way for the second one before defender German Pezzella made a cynical challenge to prevent the counter-attack.
Tireless Messi with another assist
The Argentina skipper, possibly the best player of this tournament, made an immediate impact by picking up the pass for Martinez’s strike. Although he didn’t see enough of the ball for the more significant parts due to the team’s conservative tactics, the Barcelona skipper put on a tireless display. However, he was fouled many times. He nearly scored the winning strike after he hit the woodwork in the dying minutes.
Emiliano Martinez repeats Sergio Romero’s heroics
We all know how Sergio Romero inspired Argentina to a place in the World Cup 2014 final after making some stunning saves against the Netherlands. Emi Martinez took a leaf out of Romero’s book today to put La Albiceleste in the finals. There was a sense of dread before the Argentines approached the penalties as their previous records in the shootout speak for themselves. However, the high-flying Martinez denied Colombians three penalties and all of the saves were extraordinary.