By George Overhill

19th Dec, 2022 | 5:40pm

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch reacts as old Aston Villa rival Emi Martinez strikes again at World Cup

Emi Martinez is “infuriating” according to Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch after the Aston Villa keeper won the World Cup with Argentina.

The 30-year-old produced a crucial last-gasp save in extra time to preserve the 3-3 scoreline against France, before pulling out his infamous antics in the penalty shoot-out to emerge victorious, and be awarded the Golden Gloves for the tournament.

The Whites manager has begrudgingly admitted the effectiveness of Martinez’s ruthless mentality, having been furious about his time-wasting earlier this season after a goalless draw at Elland Road on 2 October, fuming to Sky Sports at the time that the fans “don’t come to watch a snails-paced match”.

In his final column for The Athletic on Monday (19 December) he said: “In talking about doing what you have to to get a result, we should probably chat about Emi Martinez.

“I’m talking from experience here because not so long ago, he played for Aston Villa against my Leeds team and used a few antics to work the clock and subdue the crowd. I mean, it was infuriating, but that’s the point, right?

“His mind games in penalty shootouts seem to give him an edge and he knows they give him an edge. The gains he gets from those add to the fact that fundamentally he’s a big goalkeeper.

“In reality, the football goal is massive and you should score just about every penalty you take. But he has this way of making it look and feel very small.

“I actually don’t think Martinez had a brilliant tournament as a whole but to take his save from Randal Kolo Muani near the end of extra time as an example, that ability to make big plays in big moments is exactly where this Argentina team are at with their mentality.”

Anything to win

Clearly you will struggle to find any Argentinians with anything bad to say about Martinez after he played a huge part in them lifting the World Cup on Sunday (18 December).

And whatever you feel about his “mind games” when it comes to penalties, the save at the death was undeniably top drawer.

But while Aston Villa fans will have enjoyed seeing their man pull out his old tricks, and a few Arsenal supporters might try to claim him, Marsch will likely have been irritated all over again.

Martinez throwing the ball away prior to Aurelien Tchouameni’s penalty surely played a part in the Real Madrid man pulling it wide, and was one of the things Marsch was raging about after the Premier League draw early in the season.

The Whites boss, like everyone else, will now struggle to argue with the fact that the keeper’s methods have worked at the highest level, but judging by the tone of his assessment he is hardly overjoyed to see him triumph in that way.

There is certainly an argument to be had over the spirit of the game, and Marsch will be fuming once again if the same happens at Villa Park on 13 January, but Martinez is now a World Cup winner which is likely all the vindication he needs.

In other Leeds United news, swap deal in Europe for long-term target on the cards as Whites are distracted by flavour of the month.