Messi head­butt as tem­pers flare in Barca win

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Lionel Messi was at the cen­ter of a head­but­ting con­tro­versy on Wed­nes­day as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 vic­tory over Serie A side Roma in a pre-sea­son friendly at the Camp Nou.

The Ar­gen­tinian su­per­star, renowned for rarely los­ing his cool de­spite regularly be­ing the tar­get of bru­tal tack­ling, re­acted an­grily dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with Roma’s French in­ter­na­tional Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Footage of the first half in­ci­dent showed Messi aim­ing a head­butt at Yanga-Mbiwa’s af­ter the Roma de­fender ap­peared to nod his head in the di­rec­tion of the diminu­tive South Amer­i­can star.

A f uri­ous Messi grabbed Yanga-Mbiwa by the throat af­ter clash­ing with the de­fender be­fore other play­ers rushed over to in­ter­vene.

Messi es­caped a red card for the in­ci­dent how­ever, re­ceiv­ing only a cau­tion from ref­eree Javier Estrada Fer­nan­dez. Yan­gaMbiwa was also booked.

The flash­point rep­re­sented a rare loss of cool for Messi. The Ar­gen­tine has never been sent off for Barcelona and has only ever been red-carded once — on his in­ter­na­tional de­but as a teenager in 2005.

Messi’s anger soon sub­sided how­ever as mo­ments af­ter the in­ci­dent, he dou­bled Barcelona’s lead, mak­ing it 2-0 fol­low­ing a su­perb flow­ing move in­volv­ing Luis Suarez, Dani Alves and Ney­mar, who had scored Barca’s first.

Ivan Rakitic made it 3-0 in the sec­ond half with a long range strike as Barcelona com­pleted a rou­tine win.

Barcelona kick off the de­fense of their Span­ish league crown against Ath­letic Bil­bao on Aug. 23.

AP

Roma’s Le­an­dro Cas­tan, cen­ter, gets in be­tween Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, and Roma’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa as they get in­volved in a scuf­fle dur­ing the Joan Gam­per tro­phy soc­cer match be­tween FC Barcelona and AS Roma at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona, Spain, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 5.

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