Gary Medel

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Messi: Copa America ‘corrupt’ and ‘fixed’ for Brazil

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Lionel Messi received his first red card in 14 years on Saturday, and it was just the second of his glittering career.

The Argentina and Barcelona star didn’t accept his sending off quietly. At all.

Speaking to reporters after Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to seal third place at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, Messi revealed that he believes the referees and CONMEBOL aren’t being fair and that everything is set up for Brazil to win the final against Peru on Sunday.

“We don’t have to be part of this corruption,” Messi said. “They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit. I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it’s difficult.”

Messi’s lost his cool along with Chile’s Gary Medel in a heated confrontation which involved plenty of shoulder barging, but both players deserved probably a yellow card each and a stern talking too. The red card was harsh and Messi is feeling rightly aggrieved.

But he seems to have taken it a little too far with these comments, as a statement from CONMEBOL (which didn’t name Messi directly) said that “unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America. These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.”

You can’t help but feel that over 15 years of close calls, and ultimate failure, for Argentina are weighing heavy on Messi’s shoulders. They’ve now lost in a World Cup final, three Copa America finals and a Copa America semifinal with Messi, who has come out of international retirement, as their main main.

Until he wins some silverware on the international stage, those questions will always be asked about how good he actually was compared to Pele, Diego Maradona and even Cristiano Ronaldo who have all led their nations to silverware.

Messi, 32, probably has one last crack at winning the World Cup with Argentina in 2022 before he calls it quits. The clock is ticking and Messi is feeling the pressure, with his presence at the 2020 Copa America, joint hosted by Argentina and Colombia, now far from certain after this outburst.

Messi sent off for first time in 14 years for… this?!?

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It was the rematch many wanted, just not in the appropriate venue.

Argentina and Chile met for placement in their third-straight Copa America, but this time it was for third place and not the final.

So, in an odd twist for a third-place game, the greatest player in the world was sent off for the first time in 14 years.

[ MORE: USMNT-Mexico preview ]

Tempestuous early and then firmly in Argentina’s hands at 2-0 after less than 22 minutes, the match hit a new flashpoint as Messi and Gary Medel were both sent off the pitch by referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after a perceived head-to-head incident between the Argentine captain and Chile’s hatchet man.

It was Messi’s first red since an Argentina friendly against Hungary on Aug. 17, 2005. He has never been sent off for Barcelona.

And are we being naive if we say the twin red cards were awarded for a whole lot of nothing? Astoundingly, VAR reportedly had a look at the fouls and said, “Yeah, sure. Keep it.” You be the judge:

 

Chile won as hosts in 2015 as well as in the United States-based 2016 Centenario, both after 0-0 results led to penalty kicks.

The 0-0 was eliminated early on Saturday, as Lionel Messi took a quick free kick to Sergio Aguero. The Man City man danced around the keeper to slot for 1-0.

This turn from Dybala, however is the real beauty. Spurs target Giovanni Lo Celso slid a pass between two defenders, and his Juventus receiver brought the ball in front of him with perfect touch.

Serie A: Inter top Roma to go joint-top; Juve win Turin derby

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A roundup of all the weekend’s action in Italy’s top flight:

Inter Milan 1-0 Roma

Gary Medel scored the only goal of the game (below video), as Inter Milan knocked off previously second-place Roma, 1-0 at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday. Medel received the ball nearly 30 yards from Roma’s goal, took a touch toward goal and unloaded the low, powerful shot from 25 yards out that so narrowly avoided the outstretched hand of Wojciech Szczesny and nestled itself inside the Polish goalkeeper’s right-hand post.

Juventus 2-1 Torino

Paul Pogba scored one (an absolute stunner, WATCH HERE) and helped set up another, the late winner (below video), to give Juve all three points in the Turin derby and push the four-time reigning Serie A champs into the top half of the table, 10th, for the first time all season.

Fiorentina 4-1 Frosinone

Ante Rebic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Khouma Babacar and Mario Suarez provided the first-half fireworks for Fiorentina, who with their eighth victory of the 2015-16 Serie A season retain the league lead. Through 11 rounds, the Viola‘s +13 goal differential separates them from Inter Milan (+4) at the top of the table.

Lazio 1-3 AC Milan

AC Milan rode three goals, from Andrea Bertolacci, Philippe Mexes and the below beauty courtesy of Carlos Bacca, by way of Giacomo Bonventura’s stunning through ball, to three points and a three-place climb in the league table, all the way up to fifth.

Elsewhere in Serie A action

Bologna 3-0 Atalanta
Carpi 0-0 Verona
Genoa 0-0 Napoli
Udinese 0-0 Sassuolo

Monday’s Serie A schedule

Chievo vs. Sampdoria (1 p.m. ET)
Palermo vs. Empoli (3 p.m. ET)

2015 Copa America: Champions Chile dominate Team of the Tournament

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Chile won the highest team honor in South American soccer by claiming the Copa America title over Argentina on Saturday, and now La Roja are taking home some individual awards as well.

[ MORE: All of PST’s Copa America coverage ]

The Copa America announced the Team of the Tournament today, which features five Chileans, three Argentinians, two Peruvians and a lone Colombian.

It was a pretty easy choice at striker, as the tournament’s top scorers Eduardo Vargas and Paolo Guerrero were joined by Lionel Messi for the team’s front line.

[ COPA AMERICA: Top scorer, Best Young Player, Golden Gloves ]

Arturo Vidal and Javier Mascherano, who faced off in the Champions League final and again in the Copa America final, find themselves as midfield partners for this side.

“The Pitbull” Gary Medel centers the back line, while his Chilean teammate and Golden Gloves winner Claudio Bravo stands in goal.

2015 Copa America Team of the Tournament (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo (Chile)

Defenders: Jeison Murillo (Colombia), Gary Medel (Chile), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina)

Midfielders: Christian Cueva (Peru), Marcelo Diaz (Chile), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Arturo Vidal (Chile)

Forwards: Eduardo Vargas (Chile), Paolo Guerrero (Peru), Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Chile 0-0 (4-1 PKs) Argentina: Chile’s first Copa America title in 99-year history (video)

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Chile’s wait for a Copa America title has ended at 99 years, after La Roja defeated Argentina 4-1 on penalty kicks (0-0 after regular and extra time) in the final of the 2015 Copa America. To boot, Chile’s first-ever South American title was secured at their national stadium in the capital city of Santiago.

[ MORE: All of PST’s Copa America coverage ]

The first clear scoring chance of the game came off the head of Sergio Aguero, who flicked Lionel Messi’s right-sided free kick toward the far post, only to see the header saved by Claudio Bravo from very close range.

Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria was forced to leave the game after just 29 minutes, thanks to an apparent hamstring injury. Di Maria, who due to a thigh injury missed Argentina’s semifinal and final fixtures at last summer’s World Cup, pulled up lame after making a lengthy counter-attacking run.

Chile’s temperamental midfield destroyer Gary Medel should have been sent off in the 34th minute, when his high, intentional boot to the midsection of Messi missed the ball completely and dropped the Argentine superstar to the ground. It was a cynical kick to the gut from behind, but was punished with only a yellow card.

With barely 15 seconds left to be played in second-half stoppage time, Argentina came inches from victory, when Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi combined on a counter attack down the left flank, but the Paris Saint-Germain attacker’s cross/shot bounced inches wide of the far post. A late arriving Gonzalo Higuain could do nothing but put the ball into the outside netting of Bravo’s goal, sending the final to extra time, tied at 0-0.

With the game still scoreless after 30 minutes of extra time, and little more than half-chances and cases of cramps to show for it, the sides were set for a penalty shootout to determine four years’ worth of South American bragging rights.

[ RELATED: Busy international summer could give clubs plenty to plan for next season ]

Matias Fernandez put Chile’s first penalty into his left-hand upper-90, which was followed by Messi slotting Argentina’s first spot kick into the bottom right corner. 1-1. Arturo Vidal hit Chile’s second penalty low and to the left, and thought Sergio Romero got a hand to it, the ball still found the back of the net. Higuain blasted Argentina’s second spot kick well over the bar. 2-1, Chile.

Charles Aranguiz hit his off Romero as well, but like Vidal, his powerful shot found the bottom corner and the back of the net. Ever Banega’s ensuing spot kick for Argentina, weakly hit roller, was easily saved by Bravo. 3-1, Chile. In grand fashion, Alexis Sanchez dinked Chile’s fourth penalty over the line from 12 yards out, giving Chile a 4-1 victory in the penalty shootout and their first South American title in 99 years.