Football

Ronald Koeman bemoans Gerard Pique red card ahead of Juventus clash

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lamented a red card for Gerard Pique in their 5-1 Champions League Group G victory over Ferencvaros yesterday morning (Singapore time) that will keep the experienced defender out of next week's trip to Juventus.

Pique was sent off by Swiss referee Sandro Scharer with 22 minutes to go after blatantly pulling back the jersey of Ferencvaros attacker Tokmac Nguen in the box after he had been well beaten for pace.

Koeman felt that, with the spot-kick awarded, a yellow card would have been a more suitable punishment.

"The penalty and the red card is very bad for us but we are getting used to playing with one less," a rueful Koeman told reporters.

"It happened at Celta Vigo (on Oct 1) and again today. It's too harsh a punishment. If it's foul, it's a penalty and a yellow card. I don't understand why the referee produced the red card. But we have to accept it."

Lionel Messi became the first player to score in 16 consecutive Champions League seasons, while Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and 17-year-olds Pedri and Ansu Fati were also on target.

Before the trip to Italy, Barcelona host Real Madrid in Koeman's first El Clasico on Saturday.

The Catalan giants said yesterday that they have formally begun introducing a wage cut on players and staff, following the crippling effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on their finances.

Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, defenders Clement Lenglet and Pique as well as midfielder Frenkie de Jong have already agreed to the temporary pay cut, which has been incorporated into new contracts for the four players. - REUTERS

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