De Jong says Messi influenced 'scandalous' officiating in Dutch defeat
Frenkie de Jong has described the officiating of the Netherlands' World Cup quarter-final against Argentina as "scandalous", claiming referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz was influenced by Lionel Messi.
The Netherlands staged a remarkable comeback to force extra time after going 2-0 down in Friday's clash courtesy of Wout Weghorst double, but the Oranje then suffered penalty heartache as they lost the shoot-out 4-3.
Lahoz was widely criticised for his display after showing 15 yellow cards during the match.
Argentina captain Messi said Lahoz was not "up to the task" of overseeing such a fixture at the end of a heated affair, and while De Jong agrees, he felt the presence of his former Barcelona team-mate contributed.
"When regular playing time was over, the Argentina players all went to him and from then on he only whistled for Argentina," De Jong said of Lahoz.
"Jurrien Timber's shoe was kicked off, but then he whistled for a foul against us. Luuk [de Jong] just wins a normal header and he blows his whistle, they kick the ball into our dugout, he doesn't care.
"Messi takes the ball with his hand, he just lets it go. He was really scandalous.
"He is a nice guy, a good referee. But here he was beyond reason. I think he lost his way in overtime.
"It could well be that the greatness of Lionel Messi had an influence on that. It's not the referee's fault, but it did affect the game."
Only Spain, with four, have lost more World Cup penalty shoot-outs than the Netherlands, one win, three defeats, while Argentina have prevailed on spot-kicks at the tournament more often than any other team with five and one defeat.
The manner of the Netherlands' defeat left De Jong stunned, with the midfielder revealing he was convinced they would lift the trophy.
He said: "I was convinced that we would win when we equalised, In any case, I was convinced that we would become world champions.''