Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja has sharply criticized refereeing for what he saw as "favoritism" for Inter Miami star Lionel Messi.

Messi continued to shine with his new team and scored two goals in the match that was held on Thursday morning, in which Inter Miami beat Orlando City 3-1 in the round of 32 of the League Cup.

Messi received a yellow card in the 20th minute after interfering on Peruvian Wilder Cartagena of Orlando City, and then demanded Pareja to give the "flea" the second warning after interfering on another player, which means the expulsion of the Argentine star, and refused to recognize the validity of the penalty awarded by the referee to Inter Miami two minutes after the start of the second half.

Amarilla a Lionel Messi por esta entrada.pic.twitter.com/oFx0hwssGP

— Mati (@matiasm_02) August 3, 2023

Pareja said in remarks after the match highlighted by the newspaper "Marca" Spanish "There are two shots where Messi deserves a second yellow card, I do not care who Leo but the referee should have dealt with him like any player, things must be managed fairly but that did not happen today."

Pareja admitted that Inter Miami's results have improved a lot in the past games (they won the last three with Messi), but this happened with the help of the referees' decisions, according to him.

"They improved the quality of their team, we played a very competitive game against them, but we feel that there are very unfair circumstances that affected the course of the game," he said.

Messi is always must-see TV 📺

He scored another brace last night to lead #InterMiamiCF into the @LeaguesCup Round of 16. pic.twitter.com/I64NT8YdJL

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 3, 2023

Pareja believes that the penalty awarded by the referee to Inter Miami a few minutes after the start of the second half in favor of Venezuelan Joseph Martinez is incorrect, a shot that restored the lead for Messi's comrades.

The Colombian coach stated that "the shot does not deserve a penalty, such decisions clearly affect the course of the game, me and my team are very disappointed, the fans come to watch a football match, the referee must be fair, and this did not happen today."

"The diving was very clear and easy to see from afar, a few years ago (Inter Miami) did not have the possibility of having referees to help him, but today it is different."