Gary Lineker and his team of BBC pundits have been slammed by Piers Morgan for “fan-girling” Lionel Messi. Messi was in imperious form at the World Cup on Saturday night as he helped Argentina book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
“The relentless Messi fan-girling by the whole BBC punditry team is getting excruciatingly obsequious,” the broadcaster wrote on Twitter in the aftermath of Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Australia in the last 16.
“Getting worried one of them might have an ‘accident’ in the studio. Calm yourselves, lads. He had a good game against an average side. See how he does against a good team.”
Ahead of the match, Messi had never scored a knockout goal at the World Cup. But he embarrassed the Australia defence time and time again as he broke forward, created chances and controlled the game.
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And he was rewarded with his goal in the 35th minute as he fired the ball beyond Australia keeper Mat Ryan into the corner of the goal before running away to celebrate in front of the Argentina fans with his arms outstretched.
Manchester City ace Julian Alvarez added a second for the South American side after the interval following a Ryan mistake. And despite Australia pulling a goal back when Craig Goodwin’s strike was deflected into his own net by Enzo Fernandez, Argentina never looked like losing.
Messi could have added more goals in the second half but scuffed one effort at Ryan after slipping at the crucial moment. And the 35-year-old also fired another two efforts off-target. But on his 1,000th professional appearance, the Paris Saint-German forward proved to be the star of the show, with fans chanting “Messi, Messi, Messi” throughout the contest.
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And the BBC pundits were quick to gush over the blockbuster star after the final whistle. “Messi there has put on the best individual performance we’ve seen at this World Cup so far, by a mile,” said Rio Ferdinand. “Showboating, laying shots on a plate for team-mates and the crowd – it was almost God-like.”
Lineker was complimentary of Messi and proceeded to ask Ferdinand how the player “does what he does.” And the ex-Manchester United defender continued: “Honestly if we had a camera in here, the way we were jumping up and down. I’ve lost my voice screaming ‘how is he doing this?’ He’s embarrassing players but with his head up.
And former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer added: “What a second half performance from him, and the first half with his goal. We’ve spoken about his ability many times before, the hunger and desire and ability to run with the ball attracts so many defenders to him which then frees up his team-mates. The story is on him.