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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 13:24 GMT
Messi hits back at Mourinho jibe
Jose Mourinho (left) and Lionel Messi
Mourinho said Argentine winger Messi had "learned play acting"
Barcelona winger Lionel Messi has laughed off Jose Mourinho's accusation that he overreacted in order to get Chelsea's Asier del Horno sent off.

Mourinho accused Messi of "acting" after Del Horno was dismissed in Chelsea's 2-1 Champions League defeat.

"I don't do theatre," said the 18-year-old Argentine.

"I don't attach any importance to that because we know what he's like, that he likes talking, he likes to say things and heat up the atmosphere."

Messi said of the incident: "I got past Arjen Robben and Del Horno charged at me with bad intent. Luckily I see him coming and I jump because if not he would have hurt me much more."

But Mourinho was incensed by the Barca star's actions.

"How do you say cheating in Catalan?" said the Blues boss.

Messi is not a player to overreact
Barca boss Frank Rijkaard

"Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well. He's learned play-acting."

But Messi also believes Del Horno should have been punished for an earlier incident when the left-back caught him on the knee.

"The first kick that he gave me left a mark," he said.

"The first one that was with studs up hurt me more, I certainly felt that one more, but with the victory you don't notice the kicks."

Referee Terje Hauge stood by his decision.

"I feel it is important to see the situation live," he told Norwegian television channel TV3.

"When you see it in slow motion, you can be fooled by how he got into the situation.

"I have got a good feeling myself, but the red card was a key moment for how the match would develop."

Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard said Messi was not the type of player to exaggerate an injury.

"I see fouls on Messi all the time and he's not a player to overreact," said the Dutchman.

I'm so proud of my players for fighting the way they did
Jose Mourinho

He added: "We created enough chances to win but Chelsea's goal helped us in a strange way.

"There was a distinct change in the mentality of our players after the goal. Before they were too tense to express themselves but they reacted positively."

Despite Del Horno's dismissal, Chelsea took the lead through Thiago Motta's own goal but John Terry scored past his own keeper for Barca to level before Samuel Eto'o headed the winner 10 minutes from time.

"I'm so proud of my players for fighting the way they did," said Mourinho.

"I would sooner they lose like this than the defeat we suffered at Middlesbrough two weeks ago.

"It is bad enough to play with 10 men against 11 when it happens against a small side and there are not many minutes left, but against a team like Barcelona and for almost an hour it is asking too much.

"Now I must decide how to approach the second leg."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho



SEE ALSO
Mourinho in a mess
23 Feb 06 |  Europe
Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona
22 Feb 06 |  Europe
Acting the fool
23 Feb 06 |  Fun and Games
Wednesday's football photos
22 Feb 06 |  Photo Galleries


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