Lionel Messi was shown the first red card of his Barcelona career, as Ronald Koeman’s side suffered a 3-2 extra-time defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final. With his side twice squandering the lead over the course of the match, Messi’s frustrations boiled over in the game’s closing moments as he petulantly swung an arm at Asier Villalibre.
There had been some cause for optimism at Barcelona in recent weeks, with a string of improved performances helping the Catalan club climb to third in La Liga. Koeman was looking for his first trophy as manager and his side got off the best possible start, with Antoine Griezmann giving Barcelona the lead five minutes before half time.
However, the advantage lasted just two minutes as Oscar de Marcos stole in behind Barcelona’s static back line to turn home Iñaki Williams’ cross. Despite Bilbao having the better of play in the second half, Greizmann appeared to have given Barcelona the winner with just 13 minutes remaining, only for Villalibre to equalize in the game’s final minute.
It took just four minutes of extra time for Bilbao to find the winning goal, with Williams curling home a stunning strike off the post to give the Basque club its first major trophy since it won this same competition back in 2015. Things would still get worse for Barcelona as Messi’s late act of violent conduct was picked up by VAR, meaning the Argentine could now miss the next four domestic matches.
It was Messi’s first red card in Spanish football since being sent off 15 years ago for Barcelona B against Peña Sport, with the only other red cards of his career both coming for the Argentine national team. Juventus has been crowned Serie A champion for nine consecutive seasons, but it would appear the Turin club’s stranglehold on the Scudetto could finally be coming to an end.
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