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10th Dec 2022

Lionel Messi appears to instigate touch-line row with Louis Van Gaal after shoot-out

Niall McIntyre

When Argentina and the Netherlands are involved, there’s always tension and there’s often trouble.

The football can be brilliant, and a row is never too far away. What more could you want? And that’s exactly how it was this Friday, in what was one of the most absorbing World Cup games there’s ever been.

In the end, with the Netherlands having come back from the dead twice, Argentina finally put them away. But they needed a penalty shoot-out to do it.

Lautaro Mart√≠nez, who, until now, was having a stinker of a World Cup, was the man who won it with the decisive spot-kick. Argentina had been in pole position in the shoot-out, with Steven Berghuis and Virgil van Dijk missing the first two penalties for the Dutch but from then on Louis van Gaal’s men were faultless, and Enzo Fernandez miss opened the door.

The game was fraught with tension from start to finish. You had Virgil van Dijk flooring Leandro Paredes not long before full-time. That led to a scrap by the dug-outs and that edge continued right into extra time, and even into the penalty shoot-out.

It’s strange to see it but there were even some clashes during the shoot-out, with Andries Noppert pushing Martinez before his decisive spot-kick. Wout Weghorst, fresh from scoring two goals as well as a perfect penalty, also clashed with Emi Martinez. A 6 ft 6 in Burnley striker doing all the damage at a World Cup. It doesn’t get much better.

Martinez won the shoot-out soon after, but the rowing wasn’t going to stop. Argentina’s players made their way towards the two Martinez’, their two heroes, but only after goading the defeated Dutch along the way.

And there was more to come.

Dutch manager Louis van Gaal has always had a testy relationship with the Argentines – and this could be seen in the build-up to this game when he and Angel Di Maria exchanged what we’ll call ‘pleasantries.’

Lionel Messi obviously had a bee in his bonnet too as, on the back of the shoot-out, it has emerged that Messi and the Dutch manager had an altercation, with the Argentine indicating to Van Gaal that he does too much talking.

With the loss, it is believed that this will be van Gaal’s last game in charge of his country. He has been battling prostate cancer over the last year and has indicated that this would be his final dance.