Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona received only the second red card of his career during a match against Chile Sunday. Later, he did not even attend the ceremony to accept his third-place medal.
Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in the 2019 Copa America third-place playoff held in the Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo.
Messi provided the assist for Sergio Aguero (Manchester City FC)’s opening goal after 11 minutes with a quickly-taken free kick while Chilean players were complaining against a referee’s decision. Aguero rounded the goalkeeper and passed the ball into the empty goal. Then in 22 minutes, Paulo Dybala (Juventus FC) made it 2-0.
Tensions peaked when Messi and Chilean captain Gary Medel (Besiktas) clashed in the second half. Medel steered a ball near his own goal, and Messi challenged him from behind. Then Medel reacted angrily, pushing Messi and raising his hands. Both were dismissed by the referee on 37 minutes, and the decision was not overturned despite the Argentine’s strong protest. This was the second time Messi was sent off, whose only other red card was given during his international debut match against Hungary in August 17, 2005. He has never been red-carded in FC Barcelona.
After losing to Brazil in the semi-final, Messi has criticized the tournament organizer, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), for doing nothing when only Argentine players were shown yellow cards unfairly during the match.
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