Lionel Messi launches a scathing attack on Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who showed 16 yellow cards in total, the most in a single game in World Cup history.

Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk and Argentina's Lionel Messi speak with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz before the penalty shootout.
Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk and Argentina's Lionel Messi speak with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz before the penalty shootout. (Reuters)

Lionel Messi has said referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz should not have officiated Argentina's tempestuous shootout victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup quarter-final at Lusail Stadium.

Argentina won on penalties early on Saturday after a dramatic 2-2 draw in which Dutch substitute Wout Weghorst scored twice late on, including a last-gasp equaliser from a short free-kick awarded when German Pezzella shoved over Weghorst.

"After they got the draw I felt a lot of anger," said Messi. "I don't want to talk about the referee, because they immediately reprimand you or sanction you, but I think people saw what happened.

"FIFA has to review that, it can't give a referee like that a match of this importance, when they're not up to the task."

He added: "We didn't have a great game, and then the referee sent it to extra time. He was always against us. In the last play, it was not a foul."

READ MORE: Argentina oust Netherlands in penalties to reach World Cup semi-final

Sixteen yellow cards in total

Mateu Lahoz showed 16 yellow cards in total, the most in a single game in World Cup history, with Netherlands wing-back Denzel Dumfries sent off after the penalty shootout for a second booking.

Messi had scored his fourth goal of the tournament from the spot in the 73rd minute after an earlier assist for Nahuel Molina's opener.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero, saving the Netherlands' first two penalties before Lautaro Martinez struck the winning kick.

"We didn't want extra time or penalties," said Messi. "We suffered too much because of how everything happened, but it is the quarter-finals of a World Cup.

"We knew how to suffer when it was our turn, but we got through to the semi-finals. It's beautiful, something impressive."

READ MORE: Croatia advance to World Cup semis in major upset against Brazil

Source: AFP