Argentina captain Lionel Messi has hit out at Uruguay’s young players who “still have to learn from their elders” after unruly behaviour in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier.
Argentina lost 2-0 at La Bombonera, their first defeat since lifting the 2022 World Cup.
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Asked about Uruguay midfielder Manuel Ugarte’s obscene gesture directed at Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul in the 23rd minute of the game, Messi said: “Well, these young people have to learn. They [Uruguay] have a good group of players, a good national team, but they have to learn respect from their [Uruguay] elders because this Clásico was always intense, hard, but always with a lot of respect. So they have to learn a little.”
Ugarte, 22, played down the episode, saying after the game: “These are things from the game that remain there. Now we have to enjoy.”
De Paul had in the 19th minute been involved in an altercation with Uruguay defender Mathías Olivera that led to a brawl breaking out between the sides.
Messi was captured pushing his right elbow into Olivera’s chest before placing his left hand around his throat.
“It’s normal, in this type of games, qualifiers, it’s always like this with Uruguay,” Messi said. “We knew what type of game we were going to find, it was difficult for us to play. They are intense and have physical and fast people. We did not feel comfortable.”