Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

On Sunday, Lionel Messi was handed the first-ever red card of his Barcelona career during their match against Athletic Club in the Spanish Super Cup final which the Cules lost 2-3.

The incident happened in extra time of Sunday's game when Messi was handed the red card for violent conduct against Athletic forward Asier Villalibre, reports goal.com.

It was the first red card the Argentine has ever received as a Barcelona player, coming in his 753rd appearance for the club.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman defended Messi, saying that it was a "normal" reaction from the Argentine as the opponents fouled him many times.

"I can understand what Messi did. 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," Goal.com quoted Koeman as saying.

Antoine Griezmann scored the first goal of the match, putting Barcelona ahead in the 40th minute. However, the lead lasted for just two minutes as Oscar de Marcos netted an equalizer for Athletic.

Griezmann then again put Barca in the lead in the 70th minute. However, Athletic club's Asier Villalibre levelled the score in the 90th minute before Inaki Williams scored the winning goal three minutes later.

Koeman admitted that he is disappointed with the result while stressing that his side has to be more "forceful in defence".

"We are sad, disappointed by the result. We played the final to win and not to lose that, yes, but there is no time to get off. We'll be playing soon, there's a cup and a league, there's no time for regrets. We have done positive things, we have improved. We have failed in the goals received," he said.

"We have to be more forceful in defence. We must defend better in the area and not let the opponents think, they cannot control, turn and shoot easily. We can improve. My work, I give the maximum I can. My work is not very good if we had won, nor very bad for losing. We are on the way, there are positive things, although losing today is very hard," Koeman added.

(with inputs from agencies)

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