WATCH: Angry Lionel Messi ‘REFUSES to shake referee’s hand’ after VAR scandal in Barcelona Champions League win

Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to victory against Napoli to book a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals but the Argentine made his displeasure clear at referee Cuneyt Cakir over controversial VAR calls during the match.

Messi scored a sublime solo goal as Barcelona beat Napoli 3-1 at the Nou Camp to seal a 4-2 aggregate victory and passage to the last eight of the competition for a record-extending 13th season in a row.

Skipper Messi led the way with an inspired first-half performance, but was denied a second goal with Barcelona 2-0 ahead when Turkish referee Cakir adjudged that the Argentine had handled the ball when collecting a pass from Dutch teammate Frenkie de Jong before dinking the ball past David Ospina in the Napoli goal.

Messi seemed confident that the ball had only come into contact with his chest, only for Cakir to determine otherwise after a lengthy VAR review.

Despite Barcelona securing victory Messi did not let the incident slide at the final whistle, when he was seen wagging a finger at Cakir and appearing to refuse a fist-bump from the official. 

“That’s the same ref who called that joke of a penalty on Mascherano in 2018 World Cup that almost cost Argentina a spot in knockout stages. Luckily Argentina scored late and advanced anyway, but Messi doesn’t forget!” wrote one angry fan on Twitter.   

Other disgruntled supporters from the Messi fanbase claimed that the Turkish official even had an “agenda” against the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. 

The call to chalk off Messi’s strike wasn’t the only VAR controversy on a night that both teams could point to grievances with the system.

Clement Lenglet opened the scoring for Barca with a header from a corner in the 10th minute – a goal which was allowed to stand footage indicating that the defender had pushed his marker aside before finishing.

There was no doubt about Messi’s sensational solo goal 13 minutes later when he slalomed into the box, losing control of the ball and stumbling over before regaining his footing and somehow firing the ball past Ospina – making Napoli the 35th different team he has scored against in the Champions League. 

Then came controversy over Messi’s disallowed strike before Barcelona won a penalty in first-half injury time when the Argentine stole in from behind Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who clipped Messi as he tried to clear the ball.

A VAR review awarded the spot-kick to the hosts and it was Luis Suarez who converted as Messi struggled with the knock he had taken from Koulibaly.

Referee Cakir and Messi did not see eye to eye during the game at the Nou Camp. © Reuters



The first-half drama wasn’t finished however as Napoli pulled one back when Lorenzo Insigne converted a penalty after Ivan Rakitic had fouled Dries Mertens in the Barcelona box.

The second half ended goalless despite Napoli pressing and spurning chances through Insigne and seeing substitute Arkadiusz Milik have a finish ruled out for offside in the closing stages. 

Milik had a late strike ruled out for Napoli. © AFP



While Barcelona flattered to deceive for large parts of the game, they ultimately picked up a crucial win for under-fire manager Quique Setien which sets up a one-off quarterfinal showdown with German giants Bayern Munich in Portugal on Friday.

Bayern got the job done in impressive fashion their last 16 second leg against Chelsea, winning 4-1 to complete a 7-1 aggregate mauling of the London club.

Prolific Polish frontman Robert Lewandowski was again on target, scoring twice and assisting two more as he moved to a remarkable 53 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions this season.

Barcelona will head into the game in Lisbon as underdogs, but will hope that as long as they have Messi, they will have a chance.

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