Lionel Messi blames referee for Argentina’s exit

Lionel Messi accused the referee of bias after Argentina crashed out of the Copa America with a 2-0 semi-final loss to Brazil.

The Argentina captain felt a number of decisions went against his side in Belo Horizonte as goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino in each half put Brazil through to a final against Chile or Peru.

Lionel Messi was particularly aggrieved Argentina were not awarded a penalty by referee Roddy Zambrano immediately prior to Brazil’s second goal but that was only one of a number of complaints.

The 32-year-old told reporters: “They were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty they didn’t award.

“The officiating was crazy. There were clear penalties, on (Nicolas) Otamendi, on ‘Kun’ (Sergio Aguero).

“He (the referee) was on their side. In every divided ball or dispute, he inclined the pitch their way.

“It’s not an excuse, but the truth is that, in this Copa, they kept on blowing for stupid things, for handballs, penalties.

“But today, they didn’t even go to VAR when there were clear plays that should have been looked at.”

Despite the result, Lionel Messi was proud of his team-mates and believes there is a bright future ahead for the national side.

The Barcelona star said: “It was the best match we did in the Copa, against a Brazil that has spectacular players in all its lines.

“These guys made a huge sacrifice. They deserve respect. Argentina has the material to keep growing.”

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