Former Ipswich Town loanee Jeremy Sarmiento started for Ecuador as they crashed out of the Copa America on penalties against Argentina.

The 22-year-old played in all three group stage games, scoring against Venezuela as La Tri finished second ahead of Mexico and Jamaica.

That saw them face the winners of Group A, World Cup holders Argentina, who won all three of their group stage games without conceding a single goal.

There were question marks surrounding the fitness of FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, but he ended up starting for Lionel Scaloni’s side as they started the game poorly.

Ecuador had the better chances in the opening stages but couldn’t take advantage, with Sarmiento missing a golden opportunity to score from the left side of the box in the 15th minute.

La Tri were made to pay as they gave away a corner in the 35th minute. Messi picked out Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister pick, who headed on for Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez to head home from point-blank range.

Felix Sanchez’s men kept plugging away, but found it hard to create clear-cut chances. Former West Ham striker Enner Valencia missed a penalty in the 62nd minute after a hand ball from Rodrigo De Paul, with Sarmiento being withdrawn just 14 minutes later.

It was his replacement, Union St. Gilloise’s Kevin Rodriguez, who equalised for Ecuador in the first minute of stoppage time as he flicked a header into the net from just inside the area, sending the match straight to penalties.

Messi shockingly missed his spot kick, but his team-mates remained perfect to win the shoot-out 4-2, sending Argentina through to face Venezuela or Canada in the semi-finals.

Sarmiento's father, Leonel, has claimed that his son would prefer to stay at Brighton & Hove AlbionSarmiento's father, Leonel, has claimed that his son would prefer to stay at Brighton & Hove Albion (Image: PA)

Ecuador will now focus on their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign, which restarts in September with a game against Brazil. La Tri currently sit fourth in the table, with the top six South American countries progressing automatically.

As for Sarmiento, he’ll now return to England to join pre-season training with Brighton & Hove Albion. The winger revealed that he’s yet to talk to new boss Fabian Hurzeler, with discussions surrounding his future set to begin soon.

Despite reports that Ipswich would have the option to bring him back for another loan spell if they were promoted to the Premier League, Sarmiento’s father, Leonel, has claimed that his preference is to remain with the Seagulls, although there’s interest from La Liga and Bundesliga clubs.