TNT Sports pundits in awe of Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez after penalty shootout heroics

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In a rollercoaster of emotions at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Aston Villa’s journey in the UEFA Europa Conference League took a thrilling turn with a wild ending against Lille.

Emi Martinez emerged as the hero, and it’s not the first time the Argentinian has excelled in high pressure moments.

Martinez found himself at the center of attention. Initially booked for time-wasting during the game, it seemed the Argentine goalkeeper had been shown a second yellow card for inciting the crowd during the penalty shootout. Shock and disbelief spread among fans, and commentators alike, with Martinez seemingly been dismissed.

TNT Sports commentator Paul Dempsey captured the tension, highlighting Martinez’s precarious situation.

“Martinez is getting sent off; he pushed his luck too far,” Dempsey commented.

“He turned around to the crowd again, the referee was waiting for him to do something like that, he tried to tell people in the crowd to stop throwing things.

“Douglas Luiz has gone to get an explanation, but the card has been brandished by the referee again.”

However, amidst the chaos, a twist emerged – the earlier yellow card did not carry forward to the shootout. According to IFAB law 10, yellow cards reset before penalty shootouts, sparing Martinez from an untimely exit.

Emi Martinez was the penalty shootout hero for Aston Villa

The spotlight then shifted to Martinez’s performance in the shootout, where he showcased nerves of steel and a bag of tricks. Channeling his confidence and gamesmanship, Martinez managed to save two crucial penalties, securing Villa’s passage to the semi-finals.

His signature theatrics and mind games rattled the Lille penalty-takers, earning plenty of praise post-match.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez taunts Lille fans during penalty shootout.

Alan Hutto and Steve Sidwell on Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez

Former Villa stalwarts, Alan Hutton and Steve Sidwell, lauded Martinez’s impact on the game. Hutton emphasised Martinez’s knack for unsettling opponents, while Sidwell praised his meticulous preparation and confidence in penalty situations.

Hutton said live on TNT Sports: “He loves these moments, he wants to be in the spotlight, he wants to wind people up, he gets under people’s skin.

“When the Lille players were coming up he was rubbing the ball, flinging it at them, talking to them – you just want to concentrate on hitting your penalty. He was absolutely brilliant.

“You use everything you can to gain an advantage.”

While, Sidwell explained: “He is a confident person and when it comes to penalties he comes into his own. He does a lot of homework, does his gamesmanship.

“As an outfield player to take a penalty you just want to get up there, grab the ball, take the pen and get back unscathed. You don’t want to be hanging around with the gamesmanship he does.”

Together, they painted a picture of a player who thrives on big moments and is unafraid to utilise every tool at his disposal to gain an advantage.

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