Even BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce was tired of the referee at the end of the 2022 World Cup quarter-final between the Netherlands and Argentina.
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz handed out more than a dozen bookings – much to the anger of former Argentina player Sergio Agüero who was watching – and the Spaniard couldn’t even keep his cards in his pocket during the penalty shootout.
“I’ve given up,” Pearce sighed, annoyed as Mateu Lahoz waved his last few cards, not even knowing who had dealt them. The Robot Wars legend even commented that he didn’t think the official would be asked back for the rest of the tournament, so erratic and happy with bookings. Many on social media described the performance as poor, with some calling it “bullshit”.
GOOD THEN 😳 Wout Weghorst’s second goal ensures extension! #BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup pic.twitter.com/2pVsJhuKQfDecember 9, 2022
What ended with fireworks at the end of regular time started very slowly. Both sides seemed careful to work each other out with the first shot on target after half an hour – but when the breakthrough came it had to be the man himself who masterminded it. Lionel Messi failed to score in Argentina’s opener, but after breaking away from Nathan Ake, he managed an impossible pass through the Dutch back-line to the onrushing Nahuel Molina to convert. The best assist of the World Cup so far? Very likely.
Naturally, the little genius wanted a piece of the action for himself. Messi was on hand to convert a penalty after 70 minutes when Denzel Dumfries was deemed to have fouled Marcos Acuna by calmly swinging the ball past Andries Noppert – and it looked as if the Albaceleste could again progress to the semi-finals of the World Cup marched without breaking a sweat.
But the Dutch did not leave it at that – not least when Virgil van Dijk crashed into the Argentinian midfielder Leandro Parades in a comical way. Former Burnley man Wout Weghorst was brought on the tide and managed to pull one back. 100 minutes into the match, the lanky assassin was the deciding factor in executing an insanely brutal free-kick routine in which the Orange scored the equalizer.
The winner of these faces Croatia in the semifinals next week.
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