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Argentina slam refs after Copa America semi-final defeat by Brazil

Messi, Aguero and Scaloni savage match officials after 2-0 defeat by Brazil in Copa America semis

Argentina stars Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi and coach Lionel Scaloni lambasted the officiating after their 2-0 Copa America semi-final defeat by Brazil yesterday morning (Singapore time) and questioned why video technology was not consulted in two penalty appeals that were waved away.

Goals in each half by Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino helped the Selecao exorcise some of the demons associated with the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte - the venue of their 7-1 humbling by Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

But, for the Argentinians, the match was more about the absence of the video assistant referee (VAR).

VAR has been used heavily at the Copa America, to such an extent that organisers Conmebol had to defend its use with fans complaining about lengthy stoppages, reported Reuters.

The system has had a huge impact on results, ruling out three Uruguay goals in their quarter-final exit to Peru, as well as strikes for Chile in their last-eight clash with Colombia.

The group stage also saw numerous goals chalked off after lengthy stoppages for reviews, while several penalties were awarded even when there had been no appeals for a foul.

Yesterday, however, VAR was conspicuous by its absence, and Messi, who is not known for verbal outbursts, was furious that it was not used.

"Brazil were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty (to Aguero) they didn't award," said the Argentina talisman, who appeared to confront the match officials at half-time.

"All the bulls*** decisions were to favour them. Cards for us, not to them. There were clear fouls (the referee) never saw...

"This kind of bulls*** distracted us from the game...

"Throughout the tournament, they called bulls*** handballs, stupid f****** penalties, and bulls*** fouls. But somehow today, they refused to use VAR.

BIASED REFEREES

"This should be looked into and I hope Conmebol do something with these referees who unbalance the pitch by favouring a team."

One of the incidents Messi pointed out was in the lead up to Brazil's second goal.

Aguero appeared to be tripped by Dani Alves, but no foul was given and Brazil immediately launched a counter, which saw Firmino double their advantage from a Jesus pass.

Said Aguero: "The second goal was controversial... VAR worked very well until today - incredible!

"I was running into the area and Alves stopped me with his foot, it was clear, so clear that (Juan) Foyth stopped and waited for it to be given.

"I do not know why he did not check it... They told us that VAR would be like a fifth referee, but when things turn out like this, I'd rather it wasn't there."

Scaloni, meanwhile, accused Ecuadoran referee Roddy Zambrano of being "unqualified" to officiate a match of this magnitude. He said: "I didn't like the referee. I don't usually make those comments.

"I don't think he was qualified for a match of this level...

"There were a lot of small details where the match started to lose its balance because of those decisions."

The only silver lining for Argentina was that Messi said he had no intention of retiring.

The 32-year-old infamously quit international football after Argentina's Copa America final defeat in 2016 and also temporarily stepped away from the national team after last year's World Cup.

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