"I've given up": Commentator Jonathan Pearce reacts to "nonsense" at the end of Netherlands vs Argentina

Players of Netherlands chat with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz of Spain during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between Netherlands and Argentina held at Lusail Stadium on December 9, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.
(Image credit: Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Even BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce was sick of the referee by the end of the World Cup 2022 quarter-final between the Netherlands and Argentina. 

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz dished out over a dozen bookings – angering former Argentina man Sergio Aguero watching on – and the Spaniard couldn't even keep his cards in his pocket during the penalty shootout. 

"I've given up," Pearce sighed, exasperated as Mateu Lahoz brandished his last few cards, not even knowing who'd been given them. The Robot Wars legend even commented that he didn't think the official would be asked back for the rest of the tournament, such was his erratic and booking-happy display. Many on social media described the performance as poor, with some calling it "nonsense". 

Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between IR Iran and USA at Al Thumama Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz looks on during the World Cup 2022 Group B match between Iran and USA (Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
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What finished with fireworks at the end of regulation time started off particularly sluggishly. Both sides seemed cautious to work each other out with the first shot on target coming after half an hour – but when the breakthrough came, it had to be the man himself who was the mastermind behind it. Lionel Messi didn’t score Argentina’s opener but after separating himself from Nathan Ake, he managed to slide an impossible no-look pass through the Dutch backline and onto the on-rushing Nahuel Molina to convert. The best assist of the World Cup so far? Quite probably.

Sure enough, the little genius wanted a piece of the action for himself. Messi was on hand to convert a penalty after 70 minutes when Denzel Dumfries was deemed to have fouled Marcos Acuna, calmly thwacking the ball past Andries Noppert – and it looked like the Albaceleste were marching towards the semi-final of the World Cup once more without breaking too much of a sweat. 

But the Dutch weren’t going to take it lying down – not least when Virgil van Dijk clattered into Argentine midfielder Leandro Parades in comedic fashion. Former Burnley man Wout Weghorst was brought onto change the tide and managed to pull one back. 100 minutes into the game, the lanky hitman was the difference-maker, executing an outrageously cheeky free-kick routine which saw the Oranje nick an equaliser

The winner of this one faces Croatia in the semi-final next week. 

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