Aguero cools Messi down after tunnel bust-up

LONDON • Sergio Aguero had to step in to calm down a furious Lionel Messi during a row in the tunnel after Manchester City's victory over Barcelona.

The English Premier League leaders celebrated wildly after their 3-1 home win on Tuesday, their most significant so far in Europe.

As Messi left the field and headed down the Etihad Stadium tunnel, he became embroiled in an altercation with a City player.

According to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, he was annoyed at comments made by City players as they returned to the dressing rooms.

The Argentina forward is said to have singled out one player and, after the home dressing-room door was shut, shouted: "Idiot, come here, show your face."

City striker Aguero, who is a friend and compatriot of Messi, said that the Barcelona player was angry but insisted the incident was not "serious".

"I saw him there (in the tunnel)," said Aguero. "He was feeling bad. I know him well enough to know when he's bad, when he's good. But when you lose, nobody's good.

"We haven't talked. Whenever you lose you're not very happy. It was nothing serious. I heard something but I don't know what happened."

City midfielder Fernandinho rejected claims that he was the player who taunted Messi.

The five-time Fifa World Player of the Year was unhappy with Fernandinho for his first-half challenge and felt that referee Viktor Kassai should have awarded the visitors a penalty for that incident.

The Brazilian wrote on Twitter: "I just want to say that the rumours that are circulating in the media are absurd: I didn't even have contact with any Barcelona players or technical staff after the game.

"Instigating and provoking are not in my nature, bearing in mind that I put a lot of importance on showing respect both on and off the pitch, regardless of the opposition or player in question."

Spanish television station La Sexta reported that it was Mikel Arteta - assistant coach to former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola - who sparked the incident with Messi.

According to its report, the superstar took exception to Arteta's celebrations and asked the Spaniard to tone it down.

Arteta allegedly told Messi: "What are you waiting for? Go and get changed, a**hole."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Aguero cools Messi down after tunnel bust-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe