Portugal stars Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias and Pepe all made their fury with referee Facundo Tello clear after their defeat to Morocco in the World Cup quarter finals.
Youssef En-Nesyri headed in after a defensive mix-up for the game’s only goal, though the Selecao were adamant they were due a penalty when Fernandes went down in the box under the challenge of Achraf Hakimi.
Portuguese players subsequently surrounded Tello to protest the decision before a VAR check was completed with no further action. The Argentine referee was then confronted on his way through the tunnel at half time before more antics in the second half.
Desperate calls for a penalty for handball went unheard before Joao Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo brought saves from Morocco goalkeeper Bono. At the full-time whistle, the African side became the first side ever from the continent to reach the semi finals.
“I don’t know if they’re going to give the cup to Argentina. I don’t care, I’m going to say what I think and screw them,” Fernandes said.
“It’s very strange that a referee from a team that whistles us is still in the World Cup. They’ve clearly tilted the field against us.”
“We knew what kind of referees we would find in the competition when we entered it,” he added
“But I won’t go into that, but there were many minutes in which the game was stopped: at least, in the second half, there should have been 15 or 20 minutes of added time.
“We knew we were going to play against more than the Moroccan national team and that we had to decide in 90 minutes.”
Fernandes was joined in airing his disapproval of the officiating by Manchester City’s Ruben Dias, who again pointed to the lack of a penalty for his side as the main difference between Portugal and Morocco.
He said: “He raised the decisions of the game. He didn’t smile at us, but the team was there, the attitude too. We tried to do everything we could.
“Penalty shot? It seemed very clear to us. It ended up scoring the game. A draw at that time it made everything go back to square one.”
Old timer Pepe – surely competing in his last international tournament – went out with a bang, also insisting an Argentine official should not have been allowed to referee the game.
He said: “This is stronger than me and I’ll have to say it. It’s unacceptable for an Argentine referee to referee our game. The feeling and arrogance of the referee on the field, I can bet everything I have that Argentina will be champions.”