Scaloni: Don't worry about Messi penalty miss

Argentina national team head coach Lionel Scaloni warned against fixating on Lionel Messi’s missed penalty after his team beat Ecuador at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas to secure a slot in the Copa América semifinals.

La Albiceleste led 1-0 for the majority of the match before a 91st-minute goal from Kevin Rodríguez forced a penalty shootout. Messi was first to step up, but his attempted chip hit the crossbar to leave his team’s hope of progression in serious jeopardy.

However, goalkeeper Emiliano “Dibu” Martinez made two big saves to overshadow the miss and propel the team to the next round.

“He [Messi] played like the rest of the team, we are a team. This is a team, if the team played well, he played well. We have never separated the individual from the collective,” Scaloni said in his post-match news conference.

Messi concluded the match with 32 touches, with just one of those one coming inside the opposition’s box. When asked if Messi’s injury-forced absence during the last group-stage match impacted his performance, Scaloni responded: “No.

“Leo had a good game, in the end, they also planned a game or system where when we had the ball, two defenders came to attack, so, this is a chess game. He has had seven days away, we didn’t notice the inactivity mentioned in the question.”

Scaloni also confirmed that the injury didn’t affect Messi’s performance.

“He finished well, the last time we asked him with five or six minutes left in the game he said he felt well.”

Argentina now prepare for a semifinal against either Canada or Venezuela at MetLife in New Jersey on July 9.

“This team managed this like they always do, these types of competitions are day-to-day, and now we’re thinking about the next game and not beyond,” Messi said in the mixed zone after the game.

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