MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 09:08:24| >> :600:1558368:1558368:
Jul 3, 2019 at 1.30am UK at Mineirão
Attendance: 55,947
Brazil
2-0
Argentina
Jesus (19'), Firmino (71')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Lionel Messi hits out at "bullshit" refereeing in Copa America semi-final

Lionel Messi hits out at
© Reuters
Brazil secured a 2-0 victory with goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino.

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.

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.

Messi believed Argentina should have had a penalty for a foul on Aguero
Messi believed Argentina should have had a penalty for a foul on Aguero (left) (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

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, 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."

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for Brazil
Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for Brazil (Eugenio Savio/AP)

Brazil captain Dani Alves admitted his side had needed to dig deep to secure the result.

He said: "Argentina were a very difficult opponent. We needed to make a barbaric effort.

"It's one more step towards our goal. Everything we aimed for from the beginning we are fulfilling but we knew it would not be easy.

"I think many people doubted us but we have a lot of trust in our work."

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Argentina's Lionel Messi in action against Colombia in the Copa America on June 15, 2019
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

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· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

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