Lionel Messi missed his initial penalty kick, yet Argentina triumphed over Ecuador 4-2 in a penalty shootout to advance to the Copa America semifinals on Thursday. This came after goalkeeper Emi Martinez made two crucial saves during the shootout, following a 1-1 draw at the end of regular play. The match proceeded to penalties after Lisandro Martinez's early goal for Argentina was matched by Kevin Rodriguez's equalizer in stoppage time. Copa America knockout matches, excluding the final, do not include extra time. During the shootout, Messi's shot hit the crossbar, but Martinez blocked attempts from Angel Mena and Alan Minda, securing Argentina's place in the semifinals against either Venezuela or Canada.

Messi played despite concerns over an injury that had caused him to miss the final group match against Peru due to a hamstring issue. He also set a record for the most minutes played in the tournament's history. Argentina initially controlled the ball but Ecuador had the first scoring opportunity when Jeremy Sarmiento shot from a narrow angle, forcing Martinez to make a save. Argentina took the lead in the 35th minute when Alexis Mac Allister's header found Martinez at the far post, who scored his first international goal. Ecuador increased the pressure in the second half and was rewarded with a penalty after Rodrigo De Paul handled the ball from a corner. Enner Valencia, the captain, took the penalty but saw his shot hit the post, with Cristian Romero blocking the rebound.

Martinez celebrated his save with the crowd, but Ecuador equalized in stoppage time when John Yeboah's cross found Rodriguez, who headed the ball past Martinez. However, Martinez made two decisive saves in the shootout, and Nicolas Otamendi scored the winning penalty, ensuring Argentina's advancement to the semifinals.