Mae­stro’s me­dia fury af­ter Ar­gentina sink Colom­bia

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

LIONEL MESSI scored a ma­jes­tic free­kick as Ar­gentina reignited their mis­fir­ing World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign against Colom­bia yes­ter­day be­fore declar­ing a me­dia boy­cott over claims of drug use by a team­mate.

Barcelona mae­stro Messi was at his bewitching best in a 3-0 win over the Colom­bians which in­cluded his 10th-minute 30-yard free­kick be­fore as­sists for Lu­cas Pratto and Angel Di Maria.

But the feel­good fac­tor from a win which cat­a­pulted Ar­gentina into the qualifying places in South Amer­ica’s cam­paign was short-lived at an ex­plo­sive post­match press con­fer­ence.

Ad­dress­ing re­porters as he stood in front of the en­tire Ar­gentina squad, Messi said play­ers would no longer speak to the me­dia fol­low­ing a claim made on Twit­ter by one jour­nal­ist that for­ward Ezequiel Lavezzi had been caught smok­ing pot in the camp.

“We have made the de­ci­sion not to talk to the press any­more, ob­vi­ously you know why,” the Ar­gentina skip­per said.

“There were a lot of ac­cu­sa­tions, a lot of dis­re­spect, and the ac­cu­sa­tions they made against “Po­cho” (Lavezzi) are very se­ri­ous.

“We know that most of you guys don’t play that game of dis­re­spect. We can be crit­i­cised if we lose, or win, or if we play well or badly. But this is get­ting into per­sonal lives. If we don’t put a stop to it now, we’ll never stop it.”

Lavezzi, who plays for Chi­nese side He­bei For­tune, has de­nied the claim and vowed to take le­gal ac­tion.

The me­dia black­out de­flected at­ten­tion away from a con­vinc­ing vic­tory.

The two-time world cham­pi­ons had taken just two points from their pre­vi­ous four games to leave them­selves lan­guish­ing just out­side the qual­i­fi­ca­tion berths in South Amer­ica’s marathon qualifying tour­na­ment.

But yes­ter­day’s win puts Ar­gentina back into the qual­i­fi­ca­tion po­si­tions in fifth place with six games re­main­ing.

Beaten 3-0 by Brazil last week, Messi and his team­mates came out de­ter­mined to pre­vent Colom­bia from reg­is­ter­ing their first win on Ar­gen­tine soil since 1993.

A bois­ter­ous Ar­gen­tine crowd at San Juan’s Es­ta­dio del Bi­cen­te­nario did not have long to wait for the open­ing goal.

A jink­ing Messi run ended with the Ar­gentina cap­tain be­ing clum­sily up­ended by Bar­rios around 30 yards from goal.

Messi, who scored two free­kicks from a sim­i­lar dis­tance in the Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario in June, had no hes­i­ta­tion in step­ping up once again and his spec­tac­u­lar whip­ping ef­fort crashed in off the un­der­side of the bar with David Ospina beaten.

It was Messi’s 57th goal in his 116th game, giv­ing him an av­er­age strike rate of just a frac­tion un­der a goal ev­ery two games.

Colom­bia re­sponded with an­other headed ef­fort from Fal­cao that went just over in the 19th minute.

But four min­utes later Messi was to the fore again. A dart­ing run on the right took him clear of the hap­less Bar­rios, and his pin­point cross picked out Pratto who calmly steered his header wide of Ospina for 2-0.

The re­sult was never in doubt there­after, and Messi en­gi­neered his team’s fi­nal goal with six min­utes left, surg­ing down the right flank and squar­ing for Di Maria who shot into the roof of the net. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.