Messi Handed Two-Game Ban For Punching Opponent

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Lionel Messi has been handed a two-match ban after being sent off for the first-ever time in his senior Barcelona career in the Spanish Supercopa final against Athletic Bilbao last Sunday.

The 33-year-old Argentine playmaker was shown a red card in the final minute of extra-time after swinging his arm at striker Asier Villalibre as they were beaten 3-2 by Athletic Bilbao.

Referee Gil Manzano missed the incident initially but after a VAR review, he showed Messi a straight red card for violent conduct.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee met on Tuesday and deemed the challenge to be worthy of a two-game suspension.

Messi will miss Thursday’s trip to third division Cornella in the Copa del Rey and Sunday’s La Liga game away at Elche. Should Barca beat Cornella, he will return for a potential round-of-16 tie in the Copa del Rey next week and will also be available for the league match at Camp Nou against Athletic Bilbao on Jan. 31.

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