Koeman defends Messi after first red card


FC Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has defended Lionel Messi after the Argentine superstar was shown his first-ever red card for the club.

On Sunday, Messi was handed his marching orders for the first time in his club career after being shown a straight red card during Barcelona's 3-2 (AET) defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final.

The Argentina superstar was expelled in the dying moments of extra time by match referee Jesus Gil for violent conduct after being deemed to have lashed out at Athletic striker Asier Villalibre.

READ: Messi sent off in Barca's cup final loss

Following the match, Barca boss Koeman was quick to defend his star man and suggested that his actions were the result of frustration at having consistently being fouled throughout the match.

"I can understand what Messi did," the Dutchman said, per the Daily Mail.

"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, but I need to see it again properly."

Messi had previously gone 752 matches without being sent off for Barcelona across all competitions, during which he picked up just 78 yellow cards.

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