Roy Keane doesn’t agree with Emi Martinez’s behaviour during the World Cup final penalty shootout, though both he and Gary Neville admit how crucial he was to Argentina’s triumph.
Argentina won their third World Cup in Qatar, and their first since 1986, by beating France 4-2 on penalties. That came after an enthralling 3-3 draw after extra time.
The win finally gave Lionel Messi the one trophy he has been craving. He is now immortalised as arguably the greatest player of all time, if he wasn’t already.
Messi stepped up to the plate as Argentina’s talisman throughout the tournament, registering seven goals and three assists. That includes two goals during the final and then an incredibly calm penalty in the shootout.
However, he will thank Martinez for helping Argentina lift football’s biggest prize. After all, the Aston Villa goalkeeper pulled off an unbelievable save to deny Randal Kolo Muani in the match and then denied Kingsley Coman during the resultant shootout.
Martinez is the king of penalty mind games, whether it’s talking directly to his opponent or throwing the ball away, like he did for Aurelien Tchouameni.
That second tactic worked, as Tchouameni went on to send his spot-kick wide.
During ITV’s coverage of the final (via Metro), Keane criticised Martinez for his antics, saying: “The games he was playing, we don’t like to see that.
‘He always seems to go the right way’ – Gary Neville
“But we always thought Argentina were favourites if it went to penalties because of him.”
Neville agreed with Keane but also sung the praises of Martinez for managing to guess the direction of the shot almost every time.
“He always seems to go the right way,” the former Manchester United defender added. “He was messing with the France players’ heads unbelievably to be fair, and the referee should have stamped it out. But this Argentina team will do anything to win.”
Martinez did take his mind games slightly too far and was given a yellow card by referee Szymon Marciniak. However, the 30-year-old will not care as he has written himself into the history books.
France keeper Hugo Lloris endured a torrid evening, on the other hand. He is not exactly known for his penalty-saving exploits. And according to Get French Football News, he hasn’t saved a single one of the nine penalties he has faced in a shootout for France at a major tournament.
Clearly, there is an art to goalkeeping in a penalty shootout and Martinez is the master. Lloris may already be a World Cup winner from 2018, but he will want to forget all about tonight’s game and how he failed to step up right at the death.