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FULL TIME: Argentina 1 – 1 Ecuador

Argentina battled their way into the semi-finals of Copa America with a hard-fought victory over Ecuador on Thursday.

Ecuador put the world champions under pressure from the very start but they were unable to take advantage of their many forays into the box. Instead it was Argentina who found the opener, Lisandro Martinez nodding home after a Lionel Messi corner kick had snuck through to the back post.

Argentina led at the break but Ecuador began the second half in a positive vein and looked to have found a leveller when they were awarded a penalty after Rodrigo de Paul handled in the box. Captain Enner Valencia stepped up confidently but his spot kick cannoned back off the post.

It looked like it wasn’t going to be Ecuador’s day but they stunned Argentina with a dramatic late leveller, Kevin Rodriguez’ shot creeping in at the back post.

The game went straight to penalties and, despite Lionel Messi hitting the crossbar, some goalkeeping heroics from Emiliano Martinez gave Argentina the advantage in the shootout.

Nicolas Otamendi stepped up to take the fifth penalty and his conversion sent Argentina into the Copa America semi-finals.