Lionel Messi lucky to escape red card after studs-up tackle in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi was lucky not to be sent off as Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga after a slender 1-0 success over Athletic Bilbao.

The Argentine ace caught Yeray with his studs as the Bilbao defender attempted to clear the ball.

Messi escaped without even a caution as referee Jesus Gil Manzano did not issue a card, while VAR officials deemed the studs-up challenge accidental.

The 33-year-old also saw a clash with Sevilla’s Diego Carlos go unpunished at the weekend after his reaction to a rash tackle.

Messi fired another blank at the Nou Camp as substitute Ivan Rakitic climbed off the bench to bag the only goal of the game.



Lionel Messi caught the defender

Midfielder Rakitic made the decisive contribution with just 19 minutes remaining, racing on to Messi’s neat pass to emphatically rifle the ball beyond Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon.

The Croatia international’s previous goal, which came back in March 2019, had secured Barca a 1-0 win away to Real Madrid.

His latest scoring contribution was enough to move the reigning Spanish champions three points above fierce rivals Real, albeit having played a game more.



His studs-up challenge went unpunished


“The first thing I want to do is dedicate the goal to my wide and my daughters, who have had to put up with me for the last few months,” he said. “I am delighted for them, too.

“Having to wait until the 31st game of the season to celebrate my first goal is not normal. But I am happy that it helped the team and helped us get three important points.”

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He added: “It was a tough match. Athletic did well and were a complicated opponent. Nothing is easy. They defended well, left no space.

“We lacked some patience and didn’t move the ball quick enough, which are aspects we must improve upon in the coming games. But after the break, nothing is easy.”

source.



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