The Supercopa de España final saw possibly the world’s greatest soccer player break another record for all the wrong reasons. The tournament follows a four-team format consisting of the winner and runner-up of last year’s La Liga (Spanish domestic league) and the two finalists for the Copa del Rey, a prestigious annual knockout competition in Spanish soccer.
This year’s Super Cup saw Barcelona triumph over Real Sociedad in penalties (3-2) and Athletic Club performing a shock upset over the world-renowned Real Madrid in the semi-finals. As always, many analysts predicted Barcelona to win handily even without a Messi who wasn’t certain to play due to an injury.
Sunday night’s final proved to be far more contested than most anticipated as the game went through a back-and-forth between the two teams for the goal advantage. Antoine Griezmann, who’s been displaying a rollicking good series of performances, found the first strike in the 40th minute with a clinical finish. Athletic’s Óscar de Marcos took less than two minutes to secure an equalizer and so the game went on until Griezmann once again brought his team the lead in the 77th minute.
Most fans watching the game would have assumed the game to be over at that point.
This is Barcelona we’re talking about, a world-class team with an ever-expanding trophy cabinet. They don’t always dominate finals, but they usually manage to come out with the victory. Logic follows that they’d be able to do so once again. The heroes of Athletic Club refused to concede the game, however, and managed to find a last-minute goal to send the game into overtime where they found the winner in the 93rd minute.
It was heartbreak for Barcelona, who were in need of a trophy to boost their confidence with a relatively new roster of players. Things didn’t end there, though as Lionel Messi, who had declared himself fit and been playing the entire night lashed out against an opponent to earn himself the first red card of his entire Barcelona career.
The star player had gone over 750 games without a red
It was unfortunate and it further exemplified the frustration of the Barcelona players at having let their lead go to waste.
Here’s a look at the foul that led to the red card:
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Coach Ronald Koeman defends Messi’s actions
With VAR being introduced to the game, it was going to be hard for Messi to avoid punishment for that swipe of the head, but coach Ronald Koeman came to his defense: “I don’t know how many times they fouled him, and it’s normal to react when they keep trying to foul you as a player who is looking to dribble with the ball…”
Lionel Messi faces a potential four-match ban in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, which will be decided by the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee this week.