Lionel Messi said he felt “disrespected” by Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal and blasted the referee after Argentina beat the Dutch 4-3 on penalties in a thrilling World Cup quarterfinal at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar on Friday.
Messi assisted Argentina’s first goal for Nahuel Molina and then scored a second from the penalty spot as Argentina took a seemingly commanding 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute.
But two late goals from Dutch substitute Wout Weghorst, the second off the back of a free kick in the 11th minute of stoppage time, sent the match to extra time and eventually a penalty shootout.
The contest, though, got increasingly heated. At one point Leandro Paredes blasted the ball in the direction of the Netherlands bench before Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk responded by knocking Paredes to the ground.
After his goal, Messi directed a celebration toward the Dutch coaching staff and then confronted Van Gaal after the match.
“I feel disrespected by Van Gaal after his pregame comments and some Dutch players spoke too much during the game,” Messi told reporters.
Van Gaal had suggested ahead of the quarterfinal that Messi did little to help his team when they don’t have the ball.
“Van Gaal sells that he plays good football and then he puts forwards in the box and starts throwing long balls,” Messi added of Van Gaal’s tactics. “We deserved to go through and that’s what happened.”
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was the hero for Argentina in the shootout by saving the Netherlands’ first two efforts from Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis, similarly had strong words for Van Gaal.
“I heard Van Gaal saying ‘we’ve got an advantage on penalties, if we go to penalties we win,” Martinez said. “I think he needs to keep his mouth shut.”
Both players were also fiercely critical of the performance from Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee because you can’t be honest,” Messi told Argentine TV.
“If you talk they sanction you, FIFA must think about it, they can’t put a referee who isn’t up to the task for these instances,” Added Martinez:
“I thought we controlled the game really well. We went 2-0 up but the ref started to give everything to them.
“All of a sudden a good header for them and all turned upside down. The ref added 10 minutes for no reason.
“He gave free kicks outside the box for them two, three times. He just wanted them to score, that’s basically it, so hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore. He’s useless.”
Argentina’s win puts them through to their fifth World Cup semifinal and second in the last three tournaments, where they will take on Brazil’s conquerors Croatia.
“We didn’t expect to go to extra time, let alone to penalties,” Messi added. “We suffered, but we are playing a World Cup quarterfinal.
“Argentina shows game by game that we know how to play. We came out with intensity and desire and we understood the moments of the game.
“We needed this and we are happy the whole country is celebrating now. [Martinez] once again showed that he’s the best saving penalties.
“Croatia is a great team. They move the ball very well, they have been working together for a long time, it will be very hard.”
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