Soccer

Messi sent off for first time in Barcelona career after off-ball clash

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Lionel Messi has been sent off for the very first time in his Barcelona career.

The Argentinian was involved in an off-the-ball incident at the end of the Spanish Super Cup game against Athletic Bilbao.

Messi reacted unhappily when Aiser Villalibre ran in front of him, as Barca pushed for an elusive equaliser.

The red card came in the 121st minute of the match.

Barca had twice seen Antoine Griezmann's goals cancelled out – with a 90th minute strike from Villalibre taking the game into extra-time.

Inaki Williams' strike in the 93rd minute proved to be the decisive moment.

But it was as Barcelona pushed for an equaliser that Messi was sent off after VAR picked up on his off-the-ball antics.

The video officials sent Jesus Gil Manzano over to the screens to check the incident, which saw Messi raise his arms at Villalibre, who tumbled to the ground.

Manzano saw enough to show Messi a red card for violent conduct.

It is only the third time he has seen red in his career, with the other two coming while representing his country.

The first came on his international debut in 2005 against Hungary, while he was also sent off in the Copa America against Chile in 2019.

Questions will again now be asked about Messi's discipline, as he gets set to leave Barcelona at the end of the season.

There will also be increasing pressure on manager Ronald Koeman, after another devastating defeat.

Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has recently claimed that he will do anything in his power to keep Messi at the club beyond the summer.

He said: "Messi is now totally focused on catching Atletico Madrid in La Liga and playing the Paris Saint-Germain tie in the Champions League.

"I see him more and more happy, he is enjoying it. I know that he wants to stay and I know that he will do everything in his power to stay as long as the club can offer him an offer that suits him."

  • Lionel Messi
  • Barcelona FC

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