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Messi headbutt mars Barca win
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 07 - 08 - 2015

BARCELONA — Lionel Messi was at the center of a headbutting controversy 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 furious 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. Yanga-Mbiwa 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.
The chemistry that saw Neymar and Messi, along with Luis Suarez, hit 122 goals in Barca's treble success last season was evident from the start.
A deep Messi cross was knocked by Jeremy Mathieu into the stride of Neymar who opened the scoring from close range after 25 minutes.
Soon after the Yanga-M'biwa-Messi incident, Neymar set up Messi who drove the ball home from the edge of the area after 40 minutes.
In the past the Gamper Trophy was the opportunity for Barca to introduce its new players to its fans but due to a FIFA transfer ban Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal were forced to watch the game and will not be available until January.
Following the clash with Sevilla, Barca plays Athletic Bilbao home and away in the Spanish Super Cup before it meets Bilbao in its first La Liga game on Aug. 23.
Fiorentina beats Chelsea
The paucity of Chelsea's striking options was once again laid bare Wednesday as it finished its pre-season preparations with a lackluster 1-0 loss at home to Fiorentina.
Visiting captain Gonzalo Rodriguez bundled in the only goal in the 34th minute at Stamford Bridge and with Diego Costa once again absent due to hamstring trouble, Jose Mourinho's side toiled in attack as it went a fifth consecutive game without victory. — Agencies


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