Lionel Messi accused Copa America officials of favouring hosts Brazil after Argentina’s hopes were ended in Belo Horizonte.
Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino handed the Selecao a place in Sunday’s final with a 2-0 win over their most bitter rivals in Wednesday night’s semi-final.
Argentina had chances themselves, with Messi and Sergio Aguero both striking the woodwork, and were arguably the better side throughout the 90 minutes.
However, it was the officials who drew the ire of Messi after the game with the Barcelona superstar scathing in his assessment of referee Roddy Zambrano and the Video Assistant Referee.
Messi had approached the officiating team at full-time for a frank exchange of views.
Messi was furious at a decision not to award Aguero a penalty after he appeared to be cleaned out when running through on goal shortly before Firmino doubled the hosts’ advantage.
The challenge on Aguero wasn’t even looked at by VAR, something which – given the use of VAR at the tournament – left Messi enraged.
He fumed: “They were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty [to Aguero] they didn’t award,” Messi told reporters.
“They [the officials] had called a lot of bulls**t, but they didn’t even check the VAR, that’s unbelievable.
“That happened all over the game. At the first glance of contact, they ruled in their [Brazil’s] favour and this kind of bulls**t distracted us from the game.”