CRISTIANO RONALDO could be facing a lengthy ban after SHOVING the referee after he was sent off in the El Clasico Super Cup.
Only two minutes earlier the Real Madrid man had put his side into a 2-1 lead after coming off the bench.
But he was booked for taking his shirt off, and then he picked up a second yellow after the referee adjudged him to have taken a dive under pressure from Samuel Umtiti.
But in incredible scenes at the Nou Camp, the Portuguese striker pushed Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea in the back as he was storming off the pitch.
Much will not depend on how the referee has reported the unsavoury incident.
The “shirt off” celebration appears to be a dig at fierce rival Lionel Messi, as the Barca striker celebrated in the same way when he netted last season against Real towards the end of the season.
But far from sit back and defend their lead, the visitors managed to bag a third to take a commanding 3-1 lead into the second leg.
And it will leave Barca fans desperately urging the board to replace Neymar, as clearly there is a little bit of magic missing from the starting XI now.
In truth the first half was a turgid affair.
Both teams were wasteful in possession, while the likes of Messi and Benzema looked somewhat lethargic.
Real Madrid had the first chance of the game when Luis Suarez’s shot on the turn 18 yards out was saved by Keylor Navas. Barca were dominating possession.
But in Isco, Real had a player who could unlock the Barca in an instant, and he almost did 15 minutes in.
He twisted and turned on the edge of the box and fired in an effort which hit the side netting.
As usually happens in El Clasicos, there was a flare up with only 20 minutes on the clock.
Casemiro crunched into Messi and earned a yellow card, and there were the customary handbags at ten paces.
Barcelona centre half Gerard Pique picked up his own yellow card ten minutes later when he punched a Messi corner wide of the goal.
But things would get a lot worse later on for the former Manchester United man.
Gerard Deulofeu was handed the ominous “Neymar place” in the team, but he will have a lot to do on this showing if he is to prove a capable replacement.
Five minutes before half-time Gareth Bale saw his effort at goal palmed over the bar by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and that was probably the closest either side came to scoring in the first 45.
But just five minutes into the second period, and the visitors went 1-0 up – and Pique will want to forget it quickly.
He headed a corner away, but when Marcelo whipped it back in Pique slid into the ball only to see it loop into the goal.
This thankfully stirred Barca into action, and the fans became more involved in things when Cristiano Ronaldo was brought on in the 58th minute for Karim Benzema.
But with 13 minutes to go Barca were level.
Luis Suarez took a tumble in the box when keeper Navas collided with him, the referee pointed to the spot and Messi fired home the resultant penalty.
And just to prove that the first 45 will be forgotten well and truly, there was more drama to come.
With ten minutes to go Ronaldo announced himself in the most spectacular way as he cut inside Pique and curled home a delicious 20-yarder that beat ter Stegen all ends up.
The 32-year-old was booked for his copycat Messi shirt off celebration – and this would prove costly.
Less than two minutes later he was walking down the tunnel.
He took a tumble in the box under pressure from Samuel Umtiti and it looked like the mercurial magician had won his side a late penalty.
But to most people’s surprise, the referee rushed over and showed CR7 a second yellow and subsequent red and his cameo role was over.
Then came the shove in the back of the official that could well add more games to the amount he will have to sit out.
But there was still time for the pretender to Ronaldo’s throne to get in on the act.
Substitute Marco Asensio picked up the ball 25 yards out and rifled home a sweet left-footer that sees Madrid take a two goal lead into the second leg at the Bernabeu.
But all the talk will be about Ronaldo and the fine line between match hero and villain.
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