Messi should have been sent off for intimidating the referee, says former official

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Barcelona star Lionel Messi should have been sent off against Alaves on Saturday, according to former official Juan Andujar Oliver.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has endured a frustrating start to the season. Having publicly declared his intent to leave the club in the summer, he was ultimately forced to stay against his wishes.

Although president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the source of much of his frustration, stood down last week, on the field, things continue to be tricky for the Catalans.

Under new head coach Ronald Koeman, they have made unspectacular progress in the Primera Division and were held to a 1-1 draw against Alaves on Saturday.

Shortly after Luis Roja had scored the opening goal for the hosts, Messi acted in a frustrated manner to a decision given against his side – and Oliver believes that he was fortunate not to receive his marching orders in the aftermath for kicking the ball in an angry outburst.

"He should have been sent off, even though the ball didn't hit referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez," Andujar Oliver told Radio MARCA of the incident. "With that action, he wanted to intimidate the referee and that deserves a straight red."

Instead, it was Alaves who were ultimately reduced to 10 men when Jota was sent off with 62 minutes on the clock.

A matter of seconds later, Barcelona had equalised through Antoine Griezmann’s first goal of the season, although they were unable to find a winner.

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With Real Madrid having won handsomely over Huesca earlier in the day, Barcelona find themselves eight points off the pace of the league leaders going into Sunday’s fixtures, albeit having played a game fewer than their great rivals.

Boasting only two wins from their six league matches to date this season – plus two draws – the pressure is already mounting on Koeman, who is expected to wrestle back the Spanish title from Madrid after it was allowed to tamely slip away under the guidance of Quique Setien last season.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s next task is a home Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday.