Lionel Messi was harshly sent off as Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in a hot-tempered Copa America third-place play-off.
The Barcelona super star who surpassed Javier Mascherano to wear most Copa America caps for the Albiceleste with his 27th appearance was shown a red card after 14 years, only second sent off in his career after referee Mauro Diaz de Vivar gave marching order for him and Chile’s Gary Medel who aggressively exchanged headbutts with the Argentina captain after both involved in a challenge outside the penalty area.
Messi had provided the assist for Sergio Aguero’s opener in the 12th minute before Paulo Dybala made it 2-0 after ten minutes in a highly physical first half.
Just minutes from the half time whistle, Messi clashed with Medel after the Besiktas defender had shepherded the ball out of play near his goal. The two players, especially Medel aggressively bumped chests a number of times before match referee intervened and immediately took out red cards for both.
Again they blamed hkm pic.twitter.com/nQJbGJUdSx
— Azzeddine Khyaoui (@AKhyaoui) July 7, 2019
The videos suggest that Messi was being the victim of foul play by Medel. It didn’t look like Messi deserved a red for that, but obviously a yellow. Medel certainly deserved a red for going after Messi how he did and bumbed his head repeatedly to the five times Ballon d’Ore winner’s chest.
Arturo Vidal scored a second-half penalty for Chile who lost star striker Alexis Sanchez in the early first half due to injury, but Argentina held off the fightback to secure third place.
Angry over the officiating, Messi skipped the medel giving ceremony and accused referee that he was taking revenge for the player’s harsh criticism off the officiating following Argentina’s 2-0 loss to hosts Brazil in the semifinals.
As a result of the red card Messi will miss the opening World Cup qualifier in March.