Monday, March 4News That Matters

Emi Martinez accused of ‘cheating’ in Argentina’s World Cup final win

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been accused of ‘cheating’ during Argentina’s World Cup final win over France.

Argentina became three-time world champions on Sunday evening after beating France 4-2 on penalties in one of the greatest ever World Cup finals in history.

Kylian Mbappe’s late brace sent the final to extra-time, after first-half goals from Lionel Messi and Di Maria had put Argentina in firm control.

Messi scored his seventh goal of the competition in extra-time but penalties were needed to separate the teams after Mbappe completed only the second hat-trick in a World Cup final.

Martinez has a superb record in shootouts and emerged as Argentina’s hero as he saved Coman’s effort and appeared to put off Tchouameni before the Real Madrid midfielder fired wide.

The goalkeeper’s antics in the shootout have divided opinion, with some praising his desire to win at all costs and others saying it was gamesmanship.

But former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan claims his behaviour went beyond gamesmanship and was in fact a form of ‘cheating’.

Before Tchouameni stepped up, Martinez held onto the ball and threw it away from the spot. He then tried to approach France’s next penalty taker Kolo Muani, receiving a yellow card from the referee.

‘Martinez’s actions, I thought it was cheating, the holding of the ball and throwing it the other way,’ Jordan said on talkSPORT.

‘The goalkeeper’s actions, I don’t think it was gamesmanship, I don’t think it’s part of the game, I think it’s cheating.

‘For a referee to allow the goalkeeper to manipulate the circumstances, to heighten the pressure, to increase it, I think was one of the shortcomings in that moment in time.’

His former Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere was happy to see him lift the World Cup, telling The Sun: ‘I was watching [the final] it with my Arsenal coaching staff and we were all up and down like yo-yos.

‘I’m not going quite as far as to say I was crying when that final whistle went – but I just might have done if Lionel Messi had lost.

‘And to make the occasion absolutely perfect, there was my old Gunners pal Emi Martinez standing alongside him as a world champion, and after having performed so magnificently.

‘To watch Emi do what he’s done has been amazing. To have seen him as a 17-year-old kid at Arsenal, who went out on loan to the likes of Oxford, Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday, to now be a World Cup winner.

‘I’m so happy for him. He made one of the best and most important saves ever in a World Cup final – that stop with his boot from Randal Kolo Muani right at the end of extra-time to get them to penalties.

‘Seriously, that save has helped Messi to the prize we all so wanted for him and that he wanted more than anything.

‘Then Emi saves Kingsley Coman’s shootout kick – and messes with Aurelien Tchouameni’s head for him to miss.

‘He has an immense presence in goal. The target just gets smaller and smaller when he’s in it and I actually thought he would save one of Mbappe’s penalties before the shootout. He certainly came very close to it.

‘For him to win the Golden Glove as the best keeper – and the World Cup itself – is off the scale. It just shows why you should never give up in life.

‘He couldn’t get what he wanted, to be the first-team keeper at Arsenal, but now he’s on top of the world.’

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