Barcelona captain Lionel Messi returned from injury in the final of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday but was sent off in stoppage time after a clash with Athletic substitute Asier Villalibre.
Messi sees red for an off-the-ball swing. pic.twitter.com/PAW8cm95OR
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 17, 2021
The 33-year-old clashed with the Athletic substitute off the ball and was shown the red card by the referee after a VAR check. It’s the first time Messi has been sent off in his Barcelona career.
1 – After 753 appearances in all competitions, Lionel Messi has been sent off in a game for Barcelona for the first time. Red.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 17, 2021
The sending off completed a miserable evening for Barcelona. They twice lead the game, through goals from Antoine Griezmann, but ended up slumping to a 3-2 defeat.
The defeat means coach Ronald Koeman misses out on the chance to lift his first piece of silverware since taking over the club in the summer from Quique Setien. Athletic boss Marcelino goes on to lift the trophy in his just third game as coach of the Basque side.
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Bad Night for Messi & Barca
Messi was back in the starting XI after missing the semi-final win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday due to injury. Koeman named a strong team for the match against Athletic.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 17, 2021
The Basque side had the better of the game but went behind five minutes before half-time when Griezmann struck the opener. Unfortunately for Barca, Athletic hit straight back through Oscar de Marcos to go in at the break on level terms.
Griezmann struck again on 77 minutes from a cross by Jordi Alba to put Barca in front again, and the goal looked to be enough to win the Super Cup for Barca. However, Villalibre leveled in the 90th minute to force extra-time.
Athletic then took the lead for the first time in the match in the third minute of extra-time. Striker Inaki Williams curled a brilliant strike past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 3-2.
Barca couldn’t find an equalizer and saw a miserable night get even worse late on when Messi was handed a red card after lashing out and was sent off for the first time in his extraordinary career.
What Next for Barca?
Koeman will need to pick his players up quickly from a disappointing night. The defeat ends a nine-game unbeaten run by the Catalan giants and comes amid a hectic fixture list.
Barca are back in action on Thursday in the Copa del Rey against third-tier side Cornella. The game gives the team the perfect chance to get back to winning ways and is likely to see Koeman heavily rotate his side.
Yet the Dutchman will be wary that Cornella knocked out current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid in the last round. Barca then head to Elche in La Liga after the trip to Cornella and finish off January with another game against Athletic.
The two teams met at the start of the month in La Liga at San Mames, with Barca running out 3-2 winners, and play again at the Camp Nou in the reverse fixture on January 31.