Lionel Messi's red card in Argentina's 2-1 win over Chile at the Copa America bemused head coach Lionel Scaloni, who defended the country's captain.

Argentina ended their Copa America campaign with a bronze medal after overcoming Chile in Saturday's third-place play-off, however, the result was overshadowed by Messi's controversial dismissal.

Messi and Gary Medel both saw red in the first half after the Chile midfielder reacted angrily to a challenge and repeatedly bumped into the five-time Ballon d'Or winner with his chest.

Afterwards, Messi railed against "corruption" and "a lack of respect" following his decision to snub the medal ceremony at Arena Corinthians, having been critical of the officiating in the aftermath of Argentina's semi-final loss to hosts Brazil.

Asked about Messi's red card, Scaloni told reporters: "I have seen the video and so far, I do not understand what he did to have been expelled.

"It would be interesting if the referee came out to public to speak exactly what he saw and also the men of the VAR.

"Obviously, he made a very quick decision, very strange, and worst of all is that the VAR does not correct, because for this there is the VAR. The VAR is here to help, and today it did not help."

Scaloni added: "We have already seen a few times expulsions in which the referee returns in the decision and shows the yellow card. This is what should have happened in this case.

"If you look well, Messi did nothing. Well, they did not go back on the decision, they did not review it. I think the criterion is very strange. The other day Uruguay, I think it was by the nail of the foot, by the finger of Cavani pointed offside. They reviewed the video 55 times to try to justify, and with our team, everything that is against, is not reviewed.

"Not a good feeling, honestly. I do not want to think badly, but the feeling does not convince me. It does not convince our team, nor the Chileans, that we play today, Uruguay... There were many teams that had a bad feeling about this matter, and we were the most harmed because today we would be speaking in another situation."

Lionel Messi claimed Argentina were superior to Brazil and deserved to be in the Copa America final as the superstar insisted "football was not fair" to La Albiceleste.

Messi was controversially sent off in the first half as Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 in Saturday's third-place play-off at Arena Corinthians.

Argentina, who lost 2-0 to hosts Brazil in the semi-final, received the bronze medal but Messi did not appear with his team-mates during the presentation as the captain railed against "corruption" and "a lack of respect".

Messi continued to be vocal post-match, however, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner believes the future is bright for Argentina.

"We leave this Cup with a triumph but above all with our heads up and with the feeling that this time football was not fair with us," Messi said in an Instagram post.

"For what we played and because we were superior to Brazil, we deserved to be in the final tomorrow.

"But we have to look forward and with optimism because there is a future and a very large base in this team and we just have to give time."

Messi was dismissed when Chile's Gary Medel reacted angrily to a challenge and repeatedly bumped into the Barcelona star with his chest.

Neither Medel nor Messi raised their hands and the Chile man was the clear aggressor in the incident as both players saw red.

There was a VAR check but referee Mario Diaz de Vivar did not look back at the footage on the pitch-side monitor.

Messi blasted the officiating at the Copa America after Argentina were eliminated by Brazil in the final four in a match in which Lionel Scaloni's side had two penalty appeals that went unchecked by VAR.

He suggested the red card had been punishment for those comments, saying: "With a yellow card it would have been over for both of us, but, well, maybe I'm paying for what I said last time."

With Brazil set to face Peru in Sunday's decider, Messi added: "Hopefully, the referees and VAR won't influence it and they'll let Peru compete, but that looks difficult to me."

Messi said: "I always tell the truth. That leaves me calm. Then, if what I say has repercussions, it is not to do with me as I am always sincere."

Lionel Messi railed against "corruption" and "a lack of respect" at the Copa America following Argentina's win over Chile in the bronze medal match.

Messi was sent off, along with Gary Medel, after an altercation in the first half of a tempestuous meeting at Arena Corinthians.

After the match, which Argentina won 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala before Arturo Vidal scored a penalty, Messi did not appear with his team-mates to collect his medal.

When asked why he was not on the pitch for the ceremony, he told reporters: "Because we don't have to be part of this corruption, this lack of respect towards the whole Copa."

Messi was dismissed when Medel reacted angrily to a challenge and repeatedly bumped into the Barcelona star with his chest. Neither Medel nor Messi raised their hands and the Chile man was the clear aggressor in the incident.

There was a VAR check but referee Mario Diaz de Vivar did not look back at the footage on the pitch-side monitor.

Messi blasted the officiating at the tournament after Argentina lost to hosts Brazil in the semi-finals in a match in which Lionel Scaloni's side had two penalty appeals that went unchecked by VAR.

He suggested the red card had been punishment for those comments, saying: "With a yellow card it would have been over for both of us, but, well, maybe I'm paying for what I said last time.

"The important thing is that the team finished the tournament well. We do not have get caught up in the lack of respect that happened here.

"I leave calmly, with my head high and proud of this group, who gave everything. I hope that this group is respected – it has a lot to give.

"The group showed a lot of personality. It's not easy to start with a defeat [against Colombia] and then drawing [against Paraguay] – that made us stronger and we finished in a very positive way.

"They could have reviewed the sending off, but VAR was not used."

Looking ahead to the final between the Tite's men and Peru, Messi said: "Hopefully, the referees and VAR won't influence it and they'll let Peru compete, but that looks difficult to me."

He added: "I always tell the truth. That leaves me calm. Then, if what I say has repercussions, it is not to do with me as I am always sincere."

Lionel Messi was sent off as Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to clinch Copa America bronze with both sides reduced to 10 men in an ill-tempered clash at Arena Corinthians.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner appeared to be the victim of shoving by Chile's Gary Medel, but the referee sent both players off after 37 minutes with Argentina already two goals to the good.

Messi provided the assist for Sergio Aguero's 12th-minute opener before Juventus forward Paulo Dybala doubled Argentina's lead, but the first half ended with protests against the contentious red cards.

There were 21 fouls before the break and sparks continued to fly as Chile were awarded a penalty just before the hour, Arturo Vidal scoring from the spot.

Reinaldo Rueda's men failed to force an equaliser, but there was time for two further bookings that took the tally of cards shown to eight at the end of an explosive encounter.

Aguero lashed a shot narrowly wide after seven minutes but made amends moments later when Messi's nonchalant free-kick picked out the Manchester City striker, who rounded Gabriel Arias before slotting home from a tight angle.

Chile's Alexis Sanchez limped off clutching his hamstring before Arias made a diving save from an 18-yard Messi drive but was beaten again when Dybala controlled Giovani Lo Celso's throughball and chipped over the goalkeeper from the edge of the six-yard box.

Dybala sent a flying volley just wide before a volatile first half turned nasty when Medel pushed Messi around the pitch only for the referee to send both players off amid vociferous complaints on all sides. 

The second half began with a a penalty claim, Charles Aranguiz appearing to bundle Aguero over in the box, but the referee saw no foul.

He awarded a penalty to Chile when Lo Celso slid in late on Aranguiz and Vidal lashed the spot-kick straight down the middle.

Lionel Scaloni sent on Angel Di Maria for Dybala and the winger embarked on a mazy dribble past several Chile players before selling Aguero slightly short with his final ball and the striker fired tamely at Arias with the last clear chance of the game.

 

What does it mean? Scaloni's future remains hopeful

Argentina's failure to reach the final left Scaloni under pressure and his contract is up at the end of the year, but avoiding defeat here will have taken some of the heat of the Albiceleste coach.

Dybala looking dangerous

Reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United, Paulo Dybala did his chances of earning a lucrative move away from Juventus no harm with a lively performance and a well-taken goal.

Pulgar lucky to stay on

On a night when the referee was struggling to keep order, Erick Pulgar was lucky to escape with just a booking after throwing himself into several rash challenges.

What's next?

Chile will have the opportunity for revenge when the two sides meet in September in a game that looks likely to make a mockery of the term 'friendly'.

Lionel Messi was sent-off after 37 minutes of Argentina's Copa America clash with Chile for his part in an altercation with Besiktas defender Gary Medel.

Tempers flared throughout the first-half of the third place play-off and Medel retaliated following a challenge from Messi by appearing to aim a headbutt before repeatedly pushing his chest into the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's body.

The pair continued to charge each other until referee Mario Diaz de Vivar produced straight red cards, sparking protests from both teams.

Those complaints continued after the half-time whistle was blown, with Argentina leading 2-0 courtesy of goals from Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala.

Messi, who provided the assist for Aguero's opener, was making his 27th appearance for Argentina in the Copa America, surpassing Javier Mascherano to become the most capped Albiceleste player in the competition's history.

The 32-year-old was furious after Argentina's previous game - a 2-0 semi-final defeat to Brazil - for what he perceived to be poor refereeing decisions, branding the officiating "bull****".

Marquinhos revealed he suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting before rising to the "very complicated" challenge of marking Lionel Messi in Brazil's Copa America semi-final victory over Argentina.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender lasted 64 minutes of the match in Belo Horizonte despite being hit with a virus and, by the time Miranda replaced him, the Selecao were 1-0 up courtesy of Gabriel Jesus' first-half opener.

Roberto Firmino doubled Brazil's lead seven minutes after Marquinhos' departure and head coach Tite saw his back four restrict Argentina's front three of Lautaro Martinez, Sergio Aguero and Messi – although the latter two hit crossbar and post respectively.

Marquinhos hailed Messi's performance as "inspired" but conceded keeping tabs on the Barcelona talisman was a struggle.

"It was not easy, no," he told reporters. "He was on inspired [form that] night. Not only him, as the Argentine team made a great game.

"It was very difficult, but I think the team managed to cancel out the attacks of Argentina well.

"The ones we could not [cancel out] had some lucky chances, with balls hitting the post and Alisson made some great saves. That makes a strong and solid team."

Marquinhos said he received treatment at the stadium medical facility after the game, which saw Brazil progress to the Copa America final for the first time since 2007.

Brazil will play Peru in Sunday's final and the centre-back will hope he can stay fit and healthy as his team-mates aim to lift the trophy for the ninth time.

Describing his illness, Marquinhos added: "On the day of the game, I ended up [suffering from] a virus and I spent the day at the hotel.

"[It was] very complicated. [I had] diarrhoea and vomiting, I still managed to play a little, but with the effort it got worse [during the] game."

"After the game, it ended up getting worse too. I had a fever and I ended up having to go to the stadium infirmary. But I managed to get an injection and I feel better."

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni insisted he has already passed a major test of leadership ahead of his team's Copa America third-place play-off against Chile.

After several years of chopping and changing managers, Argentina were hopeful Scaloni would lead them to trophy glory in Brazil to prove without any doubt he is the right man for the job.

He was appointed last year in the wake of Argentina's World Cup failure, when Jorge Sampaoli was in charge.

At the Copa, however, Argentina missed out after losing 2-0 to hosts Brazil in the semi-finals and inevitably that led to questions being asked of Scaloni's leadership.

He addressed that issue on Friday, saying: "I do not feel as though I am on trial. I think my test has already passed. Bringing these players and making them play was my test, and I did it. What we came to do, we did."

Scaloni believes he has selected the best available squad for Argentina and said: "These players will be the future of the national team, whoever the coach is."

His contract runs until the end of the year, and it might help Scaloni's prospects of a longer run at the job if Argentina can deliver an assured performance on Saturday at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.

"The match with Chile is important," said Scaloni. "We want to finish in the best way possible. Everyone is motivated."

The match is a repeat of the 2015 and 2016 final, both of which Chile won on penalties after goalless draws.

Chile's Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda looked back to the title match of three years ago, saying both teams are now in a new era.

Arturo Vidal is a major doubt for the game, Rueda revealed, saying the Barcelona midfielder's sprained ankle needed to be cared for. "But we know his character and his desire to be out there," Rueda added.

The former Honduras and Ecuador boss saw Chile lose 3-0 to Peru in their last-four game and, like Scaloni, he wants to leave Brazil on a winning note.

"It is an important match in every sense," Rueda said. "For dignity, pride and for wanting to finish well in a tournament at which something we achieved something important."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina - Lionel Messi

Messi was furious with the officiating in Argentina's semi-final defeat, reflecting the mood of a nation after two possible penalties were turned down and not referred to VAR. If he plays, will the Barcelona superstar be in the mood to take out his frustration on Chile? Messi has suggested he is ready to play on at least until next year's Copa America, which Argentina are co-hosting with Colombia, so this is not likely to be a farewell game.

Chile - Alexis Sanchez

While his Manchester United team-mates prepare to jet off to Australia on tour, Sanchez is finishing off his campaign in Brazil. The man who has flattered to deceive at Old Trafford could give United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a close-season boost by signing off from this tournament with a stirring performance - and he could still finish as the Copa America's outright top scorer given he is one of 13 players tied for the lead on two goals.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Argentina have won 59 of their 88 meetings against Chile in all competitions (D23 L6).
- Argentina lost on the only previous occasion they played in a third-place play-off in a Copa America tournament, beaten 2-1 by Colombia in 1987.
- This will be the first third-place play-off between two teams that have faced each other before in a Copa America final.
- Chile and Argentina lost their semi-final games against Peru and Brazil, respectively, despite having attempted 10 shots more than their opponents (Chile 19-9 Peru; Argentina 14-4 Brazil).
- Chile's Charles Aranguiz has created the most chances (17) in the 2019 Copa America; at least four more than any other player.

Frenkie de Jong is relishing his chance to extend Barcelona's Dutch connection after arriving at Camp Nou.

The former Ajax midfielder was formally presented as a Barcelona player on Friday, and the 22-year-old is primed to be a key figure in the club's future.

Barca have close ties to Netherlands, largely because of their association with the late Dutch great Johan Cruyff, a superstar player and highly successful head coach of the Catalan club and Ajax.

The Cruyff traditions have sustained, and De Jong is sure he will fit in at Barcelona because of that factor.

He said: "Netherlands and Barca have always had a good connection, and Barca and Ajax have a very similar way of playing, with the philosophy of Johan Cruyff. Ajax and Barca want to play in the same way, and that's great for me."

De Jong helped Ajax reach the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals, earning widespread praise and catching the eye of the world's biggest clubs.

"My dream has always been to be a Barcelona player, so the decision to come here was very easy. I'm very happy and very proud," he said.

"When the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, came to Netherlands expressly to see me, it showed that they believed in me a lot. They told me that I would be a very important player for the club.

"Everyone in the squad is a great player; Barca have the best players in the world and I will have to show that I can be part of the first XI, where I can play in any position in the midfield."

De Jong is naturally excited to have Lionel Messi as a team-mate, with the Argentinian having driven Barcelona to new heights over the last decade.

"I'm very happy to be able to play with Leo Messi, and I can't wait to get started," De Jong added, according to Barcelona's website.

Frenkie de Jong is in dreamland after officially joining Barcelona and becoming a team-mate of his idol Lionel Messi.

Barca announced the signing of De Jong from Ajax in January, with the move effective ahead of the 2019-20 season, agreeing to potentially pay the Dutch club a remarkable €86million.

A supremely gifted and technical midfielder, De Jong has impressed at Ajax over the past few years but really rose to prominence last term, when he helped Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals.

In De Jong, Barca feel they have a player capable of becoming the heir to both Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, such is his well-rounded style of play.

And it is not lost on De Jong what it means to represent the Blaugrana, as he prepares to play alongside Messi.

"I am very happy to be here finally," he told Barca's official website. "As a child it was a dream for me to play at Barca, and now I'm here so it's great.

"I'm really looking forward to setting foot on the Camp Nou pitch for the first time. I'm happy to be able to play with Messi, who I have always followed. Now my idol will be my team-mate."

While the step up from the Eredivisie to LaLiga could be significant, De Jong does not expect to struggle in his adaptation period, pointing to the similarity between the philosophies taught by Barca, Ajax and Netherlands.

"I like Barca's way of playing," he added. "The philosophy of Barca and Ajax are very similar, and I think I will enjoy it.

"Barca and Holland have always had a great, special connection, and I hope to follow in that tradition. I want to be one of the great Dutch players who have played at Barcelona."

Barcelona's bid for a third successive LaLiga title and 27th overall will begin and end away from Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde's men are set to visit Athletic Bilbao in their opening fixture of the new season on August 18, whil they will conclude the campaign on the road to Deportivo Alaves on May 24.

Barca beat rivals Real Madrid twice last term and will hope to continue their Clasico dominance in 2019-20. Camp Nou plays host to the first encounter on October 27, with the return match scheduled for March 1.

Delivering domestically is certain to again be a priority for head coach Valverde and captain Lionel Messi but the club's increasingly impatient need to claim another Champions League crown will serve as a major subplot throughout the course of the season.

All dates in the full fixture schedule below are subject to change.


Barcelona's 2019-20 LaLiga fixtures in full:

August 18: Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
August 25: Barcelona v Real Betis
September 1: Osasuna v Barcelona
September 15: Barcelona v Valencia
September 22: Granada v Barcelona
September 25: Barcelona v Villarreal 
September 29: Getafe v Barcelona
October 6: Barcelona v Sevilla
October 20: Eibar v Barcelona
October 27: Barcelona v Real Madrid
October 30: Barcelona v Real Valladolid
November 3: Levante v Barcelona
November 10: Barcelona v Celta Vigo
November 24: Leganes v Barcelona
December 1: Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
December 8: Barcelona v Mallorca
December 15: Real Sociedad v Barcelona
December 22: Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves
January 5: Espanyol v Barcelona
January 19: Barcelona v Granada
January 26: Valencia v Barcelona
February 2: Barcelona v Levante
February 9: Real Betis v Barcelona
February 16: Barcelona v Getafe
February 23: Barcelona v Eibar
March 1: Real Madrid v Barcelona
March 8: Barcelona v Real Sociedad
March 15: Mallorca v Barcelona
March 22: Barcelona v Leganes
April 5: Sevilla v Barcelona
April 12: Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
April 22: Celta Vigo v Barcelona
April 26: Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
May 3: Villarreal v Barcelona
May 10: Barcelona v Espanyol
May 13: Real Valladolid v Barcelona
May 17: Barcelona v Osasuna
May 24: Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona

Gianluigi Buffon has sensationally returned Juventus just a year after leaving the club for Paris Saint-Germain.

Buffon had suggested he could take a year off after rejecting a deal for a second season in the French capital.

A new one-year contract with the Serie A champions will instead take Buffon beyond his 42nd birthday.

When he does eventually retire, Buffon will not just be remembered for his electric reflexes and passionate Italian national anthem-singing.

The Juventus stopper also has a way with words that suggests he will not be short of job offers when he does decide to hang up his gloves.

Here, we pick out some of our favourite Buffon quotes from throughout his long and distinguished career.

 

BUFFON ON… DIETS

"My worst vice is gluttony. I try to keep myself under control because I'm an athlete, but once a week I like to pig out and act like a normal person."

BUFFON ON… CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

"Losing on penalties in 2003 was very painful, but since I was only 25, I was fairly calm because I was convinced I'd win many more. That's the exuberance of youth. I was so close to winning it on that occasion; they missed three penalties in that final - I saved two of them. Strange things happen. It wasn't meant to be and we weren't good enough. In sport and life, those who deserve it more probably end up getting their rewards."

BUFFON ON… MANAGEMENT

"The pitch is the most beautiful part of the game; it gives you emotions which bring meaning to life. So, I wouldn't like a role as [a club] coach, with the day-to-day nature of it. I wouldn't rule out a role as national coach; you'd still get the emotion of the pitch but with the time and the freedom to devote to other things."

BUFFON ON… CARS

"Maybe I'm the only footballer who isn't interested in cars. My Lancia Y gets me around."

BUFFON ON… MESSI

"Messi is an alien that dedicates himself to playing with humans. The only hope is that this Saturday [Buffon was speaking before the 2015 Champions League final] he will be from earth, like the rest of us."

BUFFON ON… AGEING

"Even at 80, if suddenly no goalkeeper would be there, they should call me – I would train briefly and then jump in."

 

BUFFON ON… MBAPPE

"He was born in 1998, right? I had already taken part in the World Cup in France before he was born. This is the joy of life, the great thing about lasting for a long time. You get to meet kids who weren't even born when you already had a good chunk of your career behind you.

"The other day, I worked out that I managed to connect practically three generations. I used to play with those born in the 1950s and 60s, then I'll end up playing against those born after the year 2000. It's an enormous stretch of time.

"It's stimulating knowing that you're facing the future Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. Maybe in 10 years, when I have hung up my gloves, they will be the seasoned champions and I'll have the memory of playing against them at the start of their careers."

BUFFON ON… GOALS

"I scored lots of goals, and when a kid gets lots of goals it's the nicest thing in the world. Then you grow up, become stupid and become a goalkeeper, right? Then you just let goals in."

BUFFON ON… RONALDO

"The striker who caused me all kinds [of trouble] was Ronaldo, the Brazilian one. He was the perfect player, as he had power, speed, intuition, technical skills and quickness. He was a jaw-dropping player. It seemed like he was created in a lab."

BUFFON ON… RETIREMENT

"How do I imagine my last ever game? Maybe I'll go out like [Zinedine] Zidane, headbutting someone on the pitch!"

BUFFON ON… RESEARCH

"I don't watch penalties in my hotel room. I watch naughty videos."

BUFFON ON… MENTAL HEALTH

"To the fans it does not matter a damn how you are. You are seen as the footballer, the idol, so no one thinks to stop and ask you: 'Hey, how are you?'

"The problem was if I had said: 'I am going away for two months to get better' I would have been finished. Because every time after that, if I had failed with a save or whatever, I would have been reminded of that period. I just couldn't allow myself to go away for two or three months to get better.

"But I did see a psychologist and that helped me enormously. But it was something I had to re-evaluate. I thought psychologists were people who rob, figuratively of course, money from the insecure. But they are not. They are people who are there to help you and if you find a good psychologist, they will allow you to talk about everything and open up, without the slightest of fears, and that is no easy thing."

BUFFON ON… SQUAD NUMBERS

"I chose 88 because it reminds me of four balls and in Italy we all know what it means to have balls: strength and determination. And this season I will have to have balls to get back my place in the Italy team."

BUFFON ON… VAR

"You told us that VAR would be used in clear-cut incidents where there were mistakes, but now you are even checking the replays for a trodden toe or a finger in an ear. It's no longer football… it's turning into water polo. It takes too long. I didn't celebrate when we were awarded a penalty because six minutes had passed."

BUFFON ON… HIS GOAL

"More than 25 years ago I made my vow: I swore to protect you. Look after you. A shield against all your enemies. I've always thought about your welfare, putting it first even ahead of my own.

"I was 12 when I turned my back on my goal. And I will keep doing it as long as my legs, my head and my heart will allow."

 

BUFFON ON... MICHAEL OLIVER

"The team gave its all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation.

"Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bag of rubbish. On top of that, if you don't have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, having your drink and eating crisps.

"You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could've told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating."

Buffon spoke after Oliver gave Real Madrid a late penalty that saw them knock Juve out of the Champions League. He was later punished by UEFA.

Sergio Aguero was angered by refereeing decisions as Argentina lost to Brazil in the semi-finals of the Copa America.

Brazil ran out 2-0 winners in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday despite Argentina recording 14 shots to the tournament hosts' four.

Aguero hit the crossbar with a header and Argentina captain Lionel Messi later struck the post, while Lionel Scaloni's side twice saw penalty appeals rejected.

Messi described decisions that went against his team as "bulls***" in the aftermath and Aguero, who appeared to be fouled by Dani Alves in the box, was similarly disparaging over the performance of referee Roddy Zambrano and his colleagues.

"The feeling is not good. The second goal was controversial," Aguero told reporters.

"Juan [Foyth] stops, thinking that the referee was going to stop. VAR worked very well until today - incredible!

"We do not pay attention to those things on the pitch, except for the blow that Dani Alves gives me from behind.

"I do not know why he [the referee] did not check it. At the time, he may not see it, and they told us that the VAR would become like a fifth referee."

There were contrasting emotions for Aguero's Manchester City team-mate Gabriel Jesus, who scored the opening goal and then superbly set up Roberto Firmino to clinch Brazil's first Copa final appearance since 2007.

"I'm speechless. I consider every match to be important, even the ones I don't perform well, because I take lessons from them," said Jesus, who struck his first goal of the tournament.

"Tonight I decided I was going to score, I was very confident from the kick-off. I missed a chance, then I managed to score. Firmino was able to spot me well, it gave me confidence.

"I'm very happy not only for the goal, but for how the team performed. Last week I've said they would struggle to break our defence. We worked hard and battled hard tonight.

"Unfortunately we couldn't score against Paraguay but we grabbed the goals tonight. Everyone should be pleased for the match they played, for the effort.

"This is Brazil! We have to play every match as we've been playing, with the same spirit, that we will achieve our goals."

Brazil, who have kept clean sheets in all five of their matches, will play either Peru or defending champions Chile in Sunday's final.

Lionel Messi railed against refereeing decisions as Brazil knocked Argentina out of the Copa America, the Barcelona star's rage coming after he suffered yet more international heartbreak.

Messi lost international finals in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but Argentina fell in the last four of this year's tournament, Brazil running out 2-0 winners in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

His lack of success for the national team - outside of the Under-20 World Cup in 2005 and striking gold at the Olympic Games three years later - contrasts sharply with his club career, with Messi inspiring Barcelona to 10 LaLiga titles as well as four Champions League crowns.

Messi will likely have another shot at glory as the Copa America is being held again in 2020 - Argentina are co-hosts with Colombia - but how have things gone wrong for him in Albiceleste colours?

 

World Cup final (2014): Argentina 0-1 Germany (aet)

When measured against the all-time greats, one thing has always proven to be easy pickings for Messi's detractors – unlike Pele and compatriot Diego Maradona, he has not won a World Cup.

That argument could have been laid to rest in Brazil, where Messi scored four goals to help Alejandro Sabella's side secure a final clash with Germany.

But Messi was below-par at the Maracana and Argentina fell to a 1-0 extra-time loss courtesy of Mario Gotze's goal, with the Barca star having fired a late free-kick off target.

He was named the player of the tournament in the immediate aftermath but showed little interest in the award as a far greater prize had just slipped through his fingers.

 

Copa America final (2015): Argentina 0-0 Chile (aet, 1-4 pens)

Messi did not shy away from his spot-kick duties when the 2015 Copa America final went to penalties against hosts Chile.

At the end of a tournament in which Messi scored just once, he stepped up to take Argentina's opening effort, just as he had in the quarter-final win over Colombia.

The result was the same – Messi found the net. However, he was then reduced to the role of spectator.

And what followed was agonising to watch for the forward, as misses from Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega preceded Alexis Sanchez's decisive strike.

 

Copa America final (2016): Argentina 0-0 Chile (aet, 2-4 pens)

The Copa America Centenario proved a far more productive one for Messi, who hit five goals in Argentina's march to yet another final against Chile.

Gerardo Martino's men scored 18 times in the United States, including a 2-1 triumph over Chile on their way to winning Group D.

But when the final rolled around, the goals dried up, with a 0-0 stalemate ensuring more shoot-out drama.

Messi again went first, but this time blazed over the crossbar as Chile defended their title. The crushing blow of the subsequent loss forced him into a decision to retire from the international game, though he later changed his mind.

 

World Cup last 16 (2018): France 4-3 Argentina

After a poor qualifying campaign, Messi dragged Argentina to Russia 2018 single-handedly with a stunning hat-trick against Ecuador, but he could not repeat the magic at the tournament.

A superb goal against Nigeria helped Jorge Sampaoli's side squeeze through the group stage, Argentina having opened with a draw against Iceland before losing 3-0 to Croatia.

But despite Messi recording a brace of assists in the first knockout round, France ran out 4-3 winners in Kazan on their way to winning the trophy.

Argentina captain Messi subsequently refused to speak to the media and took nine months out of the international spotlight amid speculation he would not play for his country again.


Copa America semi-final (2019): Brazil 2-0 Argentina

Messi did return to play for his country in the build-up to the Copa America, but there was yet more disappointment for the 32-year-old on the international stage.

He struggled to show his best form in Brazil, with a penalty against Paraguay his only goal of the tournament heading into the semi-finals.

Although unplayable at times in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's defence kept a fifth clean sheet in a row as Messi struck the post with a shot and set up Sergio Aguero for a header that hit the crossbar.

Whether Messi, who argued Aguero should have had a penalty at 1-0, is willing to put himself through the hurt again remains to be seen, but the chance to have one last Copa crack - and on home soil - will be tempting.

Lionel Messi is an "alien" but Brazil were able to neutralise him in their Copa America semi-final defeat of Argentina, according to Tite.

Gabriel Jesus scored the opening goal and set up Roberto Firmino for the clincher as Brazil won 2-0 in Belo Horizonte to reach the final for the first time since 2007.

Their clinical triumph heaped more international misery on Messi, whose Argentina team were beaten on penalties by Chile in the previous two finals.

Argentina's captain strongly criticised referee decisions after the game, branding the officiating "bulls***", while coach Lionel Scaloni insisted his side deserved to win.

But Tite, whose Brazil side have yet to concede a goal at this year's tournament, was thrilled with the way a defence led by Thiago Silva marshalled Messi.

"I talked to Scaloni, maybe after he spoke to you [the media], but Messi is an alien. Messi is exceptional," the Brazil coach told reporters.

"He deserves such consideration, that reverence he deserves. And to neutralise such a player, with your actions on the field, you can't stop him. 

"We had to tinker with the structure of the team, so we brought Firmino a little further back to close the midfield to reduce his actions, and also to explore our speed.

"We scored and then got less possession of the ball than we normally do, but we brought effectiveness and we were decisive.

"It's another step, happy, but it's another step to the final and tomorrow [Wednesday] we will see the other opponent."

Brazil were without Richarlison, Filipe Luis and Fernandinho against Argentina but Tite hopes the trio may be available for the final, which will be played against either Chile or Peru on Sunday.

"Filipe Luis is already recovering from the injury, but as for the physical aspect, he could not withstand the 90 minutes, even more with a possibility of extra time," Tite added.

"And on the other hand, Alex Sandro has come in very well. Fernandinho is in a process of evolution, maybe if I needed him during the game, he would come in. Even with some restriction.

"And Richarlison, I do not know, but he's had a good recovery time for mumps. I believe the time has passed."

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