Lionel Messi has been fired up after leading Argentina through a dramatic World Cup quarter-final against the Netherlands.
And the captain hinted at his Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, lambasted the referee and raged at an opposing player following Argentina’s penalty shootout win after a remarkable draw 2-2 in regulation time.
Argentina looked on course for victory as they led 2-0 with seven minutes remaining, only for Wout Weghorst to hit a brace – the second in the tenth minute of stoppage time – to lead the game until ‘at the end.
There were 18 yellow cards in total – a World Cup record – with Denzel Dumfries sent off after the shootout by referee Antonio Lahoz, who appeared to lose control.
Messi – who overtook Pele for the most assists in the World Cup Round of 16 – was pumped up throughout.
After making it 2-0 through a penalty with 17 minutes remaining, he celebrated his goal by listening to Dutch boss Van Gaal on the bench.
And after scoring again in the penalty shootout, Messi then approached the Dutch technical staff after the match and appeared to tell Van Gaal and his team: “You talk too much.”
“I feel disrespected by Van Gaal after his pre-match comments and some Dutch players talked too much during the game,” Messi told reporters after the match.
It was a thought echoed by team-mate and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who said: “I heard Van Gaal say that in a penalty shoot-out they had the advantage, or if we went to the penalty shootout, they would win – I think he has to keep his mouth shut.
Messi’s rage didn’t stop there as he also took aim at an unknown member of the Dutch squad while conducting a post-match interview.
Messi allegedly looked at someone off-camera and angrily said: ‘What the hell are you looking at, go ahead, get out of there’
There were a series of flashpoints in the game with kick-offs in the closing stages after Leandro Paredes smashed the ball into the Dutch dugout with Virgil van Dijk knocking it to the ground.
Tempers also flared after the game ended, with Dutch ace Dumfries showing a second yellow card as the Argentine players celebrated in front of their opponents.
Messi was among those who complained about the level of refereeing in the game.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee because they sanction you for your honesty,” he said.
“I think people saw what it was. FIFA cannot use this type of referee for this type of match.
Teammate Martinez, who saved two Dutch kicks, also called the referee ‘useless’.
“It was a tricky game,” Martinez told beIN Sports.
“I think we controlled the game very well. We led 2-0, basically we controlled the game. The referee just gave everything for them.
“He gave 10 minutes (stoppage time) for no reason. He gave them free kicks outside the box, like two, three times.
“He just wanted them to score, that’s all. So hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore. He’s no use.”
These are scenes that were later reflected in England’s quarter-final loss to France, where Wilton Sampaio was criticized for his performance.
On Friday, however, Messi provided the assist for Nahuel Molina’s opener before doubling his country’s advantage in the second half, converting from the spot.
But Argentina’s hard work quickly unraveled after the Netherlands unleashed Burnley man Weghorst from the field who scored twice to send the tie into extra time at death.
The Seleccion won the final shootout, as Messi again scored from the spot and Aston Villa stopper Martinez saved from Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis as the Dutch fell 4-3 on penalties against Argentina in a repeat of the 2014 semi-final.
Argentina will face Croatia in the semi-finals after stunning Brazil earlier on Friday.
And if they succeed, they will face France or Morocco in the final.
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