Lionel Messi dodged a red card after his Argentina side lost a fiery encounter against Uruguay and then claimed some young players need to “respect their elders”.
It was the world champions’, Argentina, first loss since they were shocked in the opening game of the World Cup by Saudi Arabia. The Uruguayans are gathering momentum and tempers flared in Buenos Aires as Messi was seen putting his hands round the throat of opposition defender Mathias Olivera after he’d clashed with Rodrigo de Paul.
Such antics can often lead to a straight sending off. However, Messi remained on the pitch as his country were outclassed at the La Bombonera Stadium with Darwin Nunez and Ronald Araujo scoring. It was Argentina’s first defeat at the stadium since a 3-1 loss to Germany in a friendly in 1977.
Messi said on his incident: “I prefer not to say what I think about some gestures. But these young people have to learn to respect from their elders”.
On the match he commented: “You can see (Marcelo) Bielsa’s hand on the way Uruguay is playing. In all the national teams or clubs, including Argentina, his style was very recognizable. And he has a good generation of players [in Uruguay].”
The Argentines remain top of the South American qualifying group, picking up 12 points from their five games, although it is Uruguay who are hot on their heels as they continue to thrive with the former Leeds United boss, who has had success on the international scene, now in charge
“We never felt comfortable in this match,” Messi said. “Uruguay is a physical team, they have good teamwork. It is always like that against them.”
Argentina will get the chance to bounce back against their arch rivals Brazil in a matter of days. Lionel Scaloni lost for just the sixth time in his 66-game reign and was confident his side had the resilience to put the loss behind them.
He said: “I think this team showed ample signs that it can get out of difficult situations. Here you lose and win as a team, there is no other way”.
“There are times when you have to give credit to your rival. We cannot think that because we are world champions we will never lose. We are not unbeatable, I said it and I will continue to say it. The players feel backed by the support of the people, I hope it will always be like that.”