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Maradona demands protection for Messi

sports Updated: Jun 28, 2010 10:58 IST
Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona shrugged off the latest World Cup referee blunder to demand more protection for Lionel Messi, Argentina's prize asset and key to the country's title hopes.

Argentina saw off Mexico 3-1 to book a quarter-final clash against Germany but the Mexicans were angry that Carlos Tevez's opening goal was allowed to stand despite the Manchester City striker being offside last night.

When quizzed about the goal, Maradona instead took the opportunity to defend Messi, who was fouled five times while Rafael Marquez was yellow carded for a bruising challenge on the star after 28 minutes.

When asked to appreciate Mexico coach Javier Aguirre's fury over Tevez's goal, Maradona went on the attack.

"He would have felt the same way I do when Messi is playing and he gets kicked around, but the referee doesn't act," fumed Maradona.

"(The goal) looks like it was absolutely normal. Listen, today we just had (Mexico players receiving) cautions, but I know what it is like to be a good player like Messi and when you try to get the ball, you get kicked.

"As soon as Messi gets the ball, they want to kick him, it is a scandal.

"Against England, Germany played well, because nobody was trying to kick them.

"I just want Messi to be respected, there is a limit to everything."

A double from Tevez, plus Gonzalo Higuain's fourth of the tournament, sealed last night's win for the two-time champions while Mexico scored a consolation goal through Javier Hernandez.

Maradona is confident his side will now beat Germany, who crushed England 4-1, at Cape Town on Saturday in their quarter-final showdown.