Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties in an explosive World Cup quarter-final; Sergio Aguero taunted the Dutch players on social media while Nicolas Otamendi celebrated in their faces; Lionel Messi and Emiliano Martinez were also left furious
Saturday 10 December 2022 21:24, UK
Sergio Aguero told the Netherlands to “go and play FIFA” after their penalty shootout loss to Argentina and was also filmed telling Wout Weghorst to “shut up” during a heated encounter in the tunnel after Friday’s stormy World Cup quarter-final.
Tempers boiled over on numerous occasions during and after an epic contest at the Lusail Stadium, where Louis van Gaal's side sensationally recovered from two goals down to send the game to extra time, only to lose 4-3 in a bitter penalty shootout.
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who was later described as "useless" by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, issued a record total of 18 yellow cards, including a second for Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries, who was sent off in the aftermath.
Former Manchester City and Argentina striker Aguero, watching on at the Lusail Stadium, aired his fury during the game on social media - "how this referee likes to take the attention, my God," he posted of Lahoz - and continued afterwards.
"Go and play FIFA," he wrote of the Dutch players after the shootout, quote-tweeting an image showing Argentina celebrating in front of their beaten opponents following the match-winning penalty.
Footage then emerged of Aguero at the centre of a scrum of players in the tunnel, repeatedly telling Weghorst to "shut up" as the striker, on loan at Besiktas from Burnley, appeared to be trying to shake hands with some of Argentina's players.
Aguero can eventually be seen offering his hand to Weghorst after Lautaro Martinez and Lisandro Martinez have helped to diffuse the situation, but that confrontation was just one of many flash points over the course of an extraordinary evening.
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against Argentina "due to potential breaches of articles 12 (Misconduct of players and officials) and 16 (Order and security at matches) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code".
It has also opened proceedings against the Netherlands "due to potential breaches of article 12 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code in relation to the same match".
Anger had erupted repeatedly during the game, most notably when substitute Leandro Paredes hammered a loose ball towards the Netherlands bench after a foul on Nathan Ake, causing a full-scale melee towards the end of normal time.
But the moment which most resonated on social media was when Argentina's Nicolas Otamendi celebrated in the faces of the Netherlands players after Lautaro Martinez had converted the winning penalty.
The former Manchester City centre-back could be seen cupping his ears in their direction as they slump to the floor in disappointment and Argentina players race away in celebration.
Otamendi is not the only player directing his celebrations towards them, either, with Paredes, Angel Di Maria, Alexis Mac Allister and Gonzalo Montiel captured following suit.
The celebrations prompted yet more angry scenes, as some Netherlands players, furious at the actions of Otamendi and his team-mates, chased them up the pitch to confront them, prompting another wave of bookings from Lahoz.
The images of Argentina's celebrations prompted widespread criticism, but the players felt they were justified given how certain Netherlands players had attempted to put their takers off during the shootout.
Indeed, while it was not captured during the live broadcast, an aerial view of the shootout shared on social media showed Netherlands players approaching Argentina's takers repeatedly as they walked up from the halfway line to the spot.
"The pictures are taken out of context," said Otamendi afterwards when asked about the images of his celebrations.
"I celebrated in their faces because there was one Netherlands player who at every penalty kick we had was coming and saying things to our players.
"We celebrated in response to that."
Otamendi was referring to Dumfries, but the Netherlands defender, sent off as tempers frayed again afterwards, was not the only one approaching the Argentina takers.
It is a measure of just how heated the encounter became that even the usually placid Lionel Messi was left furious afterwards.
The 35-year-old, who scored Argentina's second goal from the penalty spot before also converting in the shootout, angrily confronted Van Gaal and his assistant Edgar Davids after the game and also cut off an interview by asking a Netherlands player, 'what are you looking at, fool?'
He later criticised the way Van Gaal's side had played. "Van Gaal says that they play good football, but what he did was put on tall people and hit long balls," he said.
He also implied that he had been riled by comments Van Gaal had made about how Netherlands would stop him before the game, while also criticising Weghorst for his actions during the shootout.
"I don't like people talking before games," he said.
"The number 19 (Weghorst) came and started to provoke us, bump into us, tell us things. Their coach was not respectful to us, either.
"It seemed disrespectful to me, that a coach of his calibre declared like that. Van Gaal does not respect the Argentina national team."
The referee did not escape Messi's ire either.
"I don't want to talk about the referee because you can't be honest," he said. "If you talk, they sanction you.
"FIFA must think about it, they can't put a referee like that for these instances, they can't put a referee who isn't up to the task."
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero for Argentina after saving two of the Netherlands' spot kicks and he was also a central figure in the scenes of animosity between the two sides.
After the shootout, when the two sets of players and coaches clashed again, he was caught on camera yelling, 'keep your mouth shut!' in addition to many expletives, towards the Dutch dugout.
He was also the most outspoken Argentina player in terms of his criticism of Lahoz.
"I thought we controlled the game really well, we went 2-0 up and the ref was giving everything for them," he said. "They get a good header, and then it turned upside down, the ref gave 10 minutes for no reason.
"He just wanted them to score, that was basically it, so hopefully we don't have that ref any more, he is useless.
"I heard Van Gaal saying we've got an advantage in penalties, and if they go to penalties they win, I think he needs to keep his mouth shut."