Argentina boss Diego Maradona has claimed Lionel Messi is the target of "scandalous" treatment by opposing players.
Maradona's side secured a quarter-final against Germany after beating Mexico 3-1 at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium. The Argentina coach brushed aside controversy over their opening goal by Carlos Tevez - a header that was blatantly offside - by claiming referees are equally guilty by not protecting Messi.
Maradona said "Whenever Messi has the ball everyone is trying to kick his legs, what is being done to Messi is a scandal - they don't even look for the ball they try to kick him."
He added: "I have lived that myself 20 years ago, when I was a player when you had three players on you.
"I understand the Mexicans' feelings but there is a limit to everything."
Manchester City striker Tevez benefited from a blunder that was so bad it ranked alongside the one that denied Frank Lampard in the England game four hours previously. The offside rule states there should be two players between the striker and the goal when the ball is played - there was not even one when Lionel Messi's ball found Tevez who headed it into an empty net.
After the replay flashed up on the big screen angry Mexico players surrounded the Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and linesman Stefano Ayroldi but the goal stood as it was too late for the officials to change their mind.
Mexico's coach Javier Aguirre said the match officials' mistake had ruined years of hard work.
He said: "We were stronger up until the first goal and then after the mistake the match changed dramatically.
"After the referee gave that offside goal we lost our concentration. Referees and linesmen can take split-second decisions and they can spoil everything and years of hard work."
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