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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Josh O'Brien

Nicolas Otamendi explains why Argentina stars celebrated in Netherlands' players faces

Nicolas Otemendi has claimd that the Argentina players celebrated in the faces of their Netherlands counterparts because of a Dutch player trying to distract them during the penalty shoot-out.

The two nations played out a thrilling World Cup quarter-final clash that went the distance, though that was only due to a remarkable late Netherlands comeback. With Lionel Scaloni's men two goals to good in the 80th minute, a Wout Weghorst brace for the Oranje sent the game into extra-time.

Just before the equaliser, Leandro Paredes sparked a huge on-pitch melee between the two teams after hacking down Nathan Ake before deliberately booting the ball into the Dutch bench. That only raised the tensions further when the tie eventually went an extra 30 minutes.

There were plenty of cynical fouls, with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz the busiest man of the night - dishing out an astonishing 17 yellow cards over the course of the 120 minutes before sending Denzel Dumfries off after the full-time whistle.

Beforehand, Argentina sealed their place in the last four of the World Cup with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez largely to thank after he saved two Dutch spot-kicks from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis respectively.

Inter Milan star Lautaro Martinez netted the vital penalty to send Argentina through, which prompted some taunting and goading from their players. A number of La Seleccion stars cheered and celebrated in the face of thir crestfallen Dutch counterparts.

Argentina players appeared to mock dejected Netherlands stars as they celebrated their side's win (Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

HAVE YOUR SAY! Were the Argentina players wrong to celebrate the way they did? Comment below

While the act may seem particularly cruel, Otamendi has since shed light on why the Argentine's acted the way they did.

"I celebrated in the face because there was a one Netherlands player, who at every penalty kick we had, was coming and saying things to one of our players, the former Manchester City defender explained. "The picture was taken out of context, and we celebrated in response to it."

The ill-feeling lingered long after the game, with shot-stopper Martinez conducting a remarkable post-match interview in which he took aim at everyone from the referee to Dutch boss Louis van Gaal.

The Aston Villa shot-stopper declared to beIN Sport: "The ref was just giving everything for them. He gave 10 minutes [stoppage time] for no reason. He was giving free-kicks outside the box for them, like two, three times.

"He just wanted them to score, that’s basically it. So, hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore. He’s useless."

While discussing Van Gaal, Martinez added: "I heard Van Gaal saying, ‘We’ve got an advantage in penalties. If we go to penalties we win', I think he needs to keep his mouth shut."

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