SÃO PAULO (AP) — Lionel Messi was sent off in the first half of the third-place game between Argentina and Chile in the Copa América on Saturday.
Messi was red carded after getting into a shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who also was ejected.
Messi and Medel got into each other’s faces after a ball dispute near an end line in the 37th minute at the Arena Corinthians.
Medel wasn’t happy that Messi came in hard from behind to try to take the ball. The Chilean went to confront the Argentine great, who didn’t back down. They started to bump into each other with their chests and shoulders.
Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar came in and immediately sent off both players.
There were complaints from both teams, and several players continued arguing with each other. It took a few minutes before Medel and Messi finally left the field.
Messi had also received a straight red card in his national team debut with Argentina in a friendly against Hungary in 2005.
It was a tense match from the start in São Paulo, with several hard fouls from both sides. The teams had already gotten into an altercation involving several players earlier in the game.
The game was a rematch of the last two Copa América finals, both won by Chile in penalty shootouts.
Argentina was winning 2-0 at the time of the dismissals with goals by Sergio Agüero and Paulo Dybala. Messi had an assist on Agüero’s goal.
Argentina, enduring a 26-year title drought with the senior team, was eliminated by Brazil in the semifinals. Chile lost to Peru.