Football World Cup: Argentina hero Emiliano Martinez slams 'useless' referee, Lionel Messi takes aim at Dutch boss Louis Van Gaal

There was no sense of allowing bygones to be bygones for Argentina hero Emiliano Martinez, after his team prevailed in a heated World Cup quarter-final against the Netherlands on Saturday (NZ time).

After the Dutch had forced extra time with an equaliser off the last play of regular time, Martinez stepped up to make consecutive critical saves to open the penalty shootout and put his team in the box seat. They eventually prevailed 4-3 to book their spot in the semi-finals against Croatia.

The match itself was a fiery encounter, with tempers constantly flaring between the two sides. Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz issued 17 yellow cards - enough to set a new World Cup record.

And despite his side having come out on the right side on the ledger, shot-stopper Martinez still had plenty of shots to offer in his post-match interview, accusing "useless" Lahoz of favouritism towards the Dutch.

"The ref was just giving everything for them," said Martinez. "All of a sudden they get a good header, a good flick, which I couldn’t see and then it just turned upside down.

"The ref was giving everything for them. He gave 10 minutes [added time] for no reason. He was giving free-kicks outside the box for them, like two, three times.

Players erupt from the bench in an on-field scuffle.
Players erupt from the bench in an on-field scuffle. Photo credit: Getty

"He just wanted them to score, that’s basically it. So, hopefully we don't have him that ref anymore. 

"He's useless."

The contest threatened to boil over on several occasions, most notably when Leandro Paredes kicked a ball directly at the Netherlands' dugout, resulting in both teams spilling off the bench and butting heads.

As tensions rose, players frequently exchanged barbs during the penalty shootout, when Lahoz produced a handful of cards, including a red for Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper didn't stop there, turning his ire towards Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal.

"I heard Van Gaal saying: 'We've got an advantage in penalties. If we go to penalties we win'," Martinez added.

"I think he needs to keep his mouth shut."

Martinez's captain Lionel Messi also had some parting barbs for Van Gaal, accusing him of disrespect and confronting him after the match.

Van Gaal had suggested before the quarter-final that Messi did little to help his team when they don't have the ball.

"Van Gaal sells that he plays good football and then he puts forwards in the box and starts throwing long balls," Messi said of Van Gaal's tactics. 

"We deserved to go through and that's what happened."

Messi - who converted a penalty to out his team ahead 2-0 - also implied referee Lahoz wasn't qualified for the occasion.

"I don't want to talk about the referee because you can't be honest," Messi told Argentine TV.

"If you talk they sanction you; FIFA must think about it, they can't put a referee who isn't up to the task for these instances.".

Martinez will be hoping his words don't come back to haunt him in the form of a suspension, with their semi-final against Croatia looming Wednesday morning.

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