Lionel Messi’s frosty reaction to Robert Lewandowski during Argentina’s World Cup win over Poland on Wednesday night speaks volumes about the Paris Saint-Germain star. In the closing stages, the pair jostled in the centre of the field – with the referee then calling for a foul. And, though Lewandowski appeared to apologise, his attacking rival was having none of it.
Argentina were too strong for Poland on Wednesday night, with goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez giving them all three points at Stadium 974.
Yet, in the closing stages of the match, Messi seemed aggrieved.
Lewandowski tried to tackle the PSG star, who he actually replaced at Barcelona back in the summer transfer window when he joined from Bayern Munich.
This resulted in play being stopped and, though the Pole appeared to reach out to Messi in order to apologise, the Argentina star was having none of it.
It speaks volumes about the 35-year-old’s character that, even as his side battled their way into the round of 16, he wasn’t happy. And it could, potentially, have stemmed from his missed penalty earlier in the contest.
Messi had, in the first half, received a whack in the face from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
It looked a soft penalty, especially given how the Juventus goalkeeper hadn’t even been looking at the Argentina star, yet that didn’t stop the officials from pointing to the spot.
Messi then stepped up to take it with the pressure of an entire nation hanging on his shoulders.
But the PSG star saw his effort saved and parried away by Szczesny, with Poland players then mobbing the shot-stopper in the immediate aftermath.
Throughout the game, Messi grew more and more frustrated as Poland did everything to stop him from dictating play and finding the net.
And that he reacted to angrily towards Lewandowski, despite Argentina winning, suggests he was frustrated at how Poland were able to keep him shackled.
In the end, however, it was a good night for the two-time winners.
Argentina were rarely tested and were in cruise control throughout, with Mac Allister opening the scoring shortly after half time to send those wearing blue and white stripes wild around the ground.
And Alvarez then doubled their lead in the 67th minute.
It wasn’t the end for Poland, however, with Lewandowski’s side going through to the last 16 of the tournament as well due to the fact Saudi Arabia scored a late winner against Mexico.
Messi and Argentina are due to face Australia in the next round of the competition.
The Socceroos, who lost their opening match of the tournament to France, booked their spot in the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Denmark.
Poland, meanwhile, will face France.
The reigning champions made a host of changes for their match with Tunisia earlier in the day, having already booked their passage through.
But they were made to regret that decision, losing 1-0 – with Wahbi Khazri netting the only goal of the game.