Virgil van Dijk insists he will not be watching the rest of the World Cup after his Netherlands side were eliminated in a devastating quarter-final defeat to Argentina last night.
The Liverpool defender looked to be on his way home inside 90 minutes when Argentina went 2-0 up through Lionel Messi, but a dramatic final 20 minutes – inclusive of over 11 minutes added-time – saw Wout Weghorst score twice to level the score as tempers flared. Van Dijk was one of several booked for his part in a huge bust-up after Argentina’s Leandro Paredes smashed the ball towards the Netherlands dugout.
Despite Louis van Gaal‘s side taking all the momentum into extra-time, it was the South Americans who had most of the play. But they failed to find an eventual winner and the game went to penalties. Van Dijk stepped up to take first for his side but saw his tame effort saved by Emiliano Martinez. The Aston Villa goalkeeper also saved Steven Berghuis‘s spot-kick before Lautaro Martinez eventually sealed victory.
Van Dijk cut a devastated figure after the defeat as he went out early in his first ever major tournament. And speaking to the media after the result, the 31-year-old was blunt in admitting he won’t be tuning in for the final stages. Asked whether he thinks Argentina will go on to win the World Cup, he declared, via journalist Miguel Delaney: “I don’t care. I won’t watch any more.”
The meeting between two great footballing nations was incredibly ill-tempered with no love lost. Spanish official Antonio Mateu Lahoz brandished a shocking 14 yellow cards before sending off Denzel Dumfries.
Tensions continued to boil over throughout the shootout as both sides clashed between spot-kicks. The Argentina players were pictured celebrating in front of the Dutch after Martinez’s winner, with Nicolas Otamendi leading the taunts before claiming one player was constantly trying to get into Argentinian heads.
He said: “I celebrated in face because there was a one Netherlands player, who at every penalty kick we had, was coming and saying things to one of our players. The picture was taken out of context, and we celebrated in response to it.”
Yesterday saw a total of three Liverpool players head home early, with Brazil duo Fabinho and Alisson also losing on penalties against Croatia. At least one more Red will see their tournament end in heartbreak when Ibrahima Konate‘s France meet with the England of Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.