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Match Day

Leo Messi sent off in Super Cup loss against Athletic

Athletic Bilbao won the Spanish Super Cup after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Barcelona after extra time in the final in Seville. The final will be remembered for the fact that Lionel Messi received a red card for hitting an opponent. After two goals by Antoine Griezmann, the Blaugranes led 2-1 until the last minute of regular time, but allowed an equalizer after a goal by Asier Villalibre. Shortly after the start of the added half hour, the Basques scored their third goal through Inaki Williams. Leo was send off seconds before the end after he punched Villalibre in the head. For Messi this is the first red card with Barcelona and the first in club football in general, after his other two were with the Argentina national team.

Expectations that Lionel Messi will be in the starting 11 of Barca came true. The captain had overcome the injury that caused him to miss the previous game. Leo acted at the top of the attack instead of Martin Braithwaite. In the midfield Ronald Koeman had preferred Sergio Busquets and Frenkie De Jong, while Miralem Pjanic was left on the bench.

The Basques imposed a high pressure and perhaps surprisingly they were more active in the early stages. For more than 20 minutes, Barca did not create even one chance, and there was no shots towards Simon. Athletic got their first real chance in the 26th, when Ander Capa had clear line of sight for a shot, but Ter Stegen saved. It was not until the 29th that the players in red and blue threatened the opponent. Then Ousmane Dembele slipped through on the right wing and tried to find a good position in the penalty area Antoine Griezmann, but the pass was too strong and inaccurate. Leo Messi reminded of himself in the 37th minute with a long shot that went out.

Barcelona took the lead in the 40th minute. Jordi Alba made a run on the left wing, returned the ball to the penalty area, where first Leo Messi missed it, but Griezmann intercepted for 1-0.

While the Catalans was still celebrating, Athletic returned the goal. This time Alba turned out to be in the wrong after not noticing how De Marcos went behind him after a pass from Inaki Williams and easily scored for 1-1.

At halftime, Ronald Koeman replaced Dest with Oscar Mingueza, after it turned out that the American was still in pain from earlier knock. The second half started with pressure from Bilbao, but in the 53rd Griezmann almost scored from a free kick.

Bilbao’s players were denied a goal in the 57th minute after the intervention of VAR, because it turned out that Raul Garcia, who intercepted with a header was in an offside. Ten minutes later, Inaki Williams managed to shoot from a good position and there was no one to stop him, but the ball flew out.

Barcelona took the lead again in the 77th, when after another run of Alba, where he found Griezmann alone against the goalkeeper for 2-1.

Athletic coach Marcelinho quickly made four changes in hopes of scoring a goal. In the last minute of the regular time the substitute Asier Villalibre equalized after intercepting a cross from a free kick- 2-2.

The game went into overtime and only three minutes after their start Athletic came ahead. Inaki Williams masterfully drove the ball into the far post and from there into the net – 2-3 for the Basques.

Athletic failed to increase their lead in the 105th, when Unai Nunez miraculously failed to hit a crossed ball two meters from the door. For the final quarter of an hour, Koeman took a risk, leaving only one typical central defender in the face of Ronald Araujo, but Barça’s attacks were not very dangerous. The last minute came and Messi got nervous and hit a Bilbao player in the head with his hand. Initially the referee did not see this, but after the intervention of VAR he gave him a red card.

After the final whistle Athletic lifted the trophy for the Super Cup, and Barcelona is waiting for the next game against the unpretentious Cornella in the Spanish Cup.

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