Espanyol's Pau Lopez denies intentional attempt to hurt Lionel Messi
Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez insists that he had no deliberate intention to hurt Lionel Messi during his side’s 4-1 loss against rivals Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey first leg tie on Thursday. Pau was seen stepping on Messi’s ankle after a collision during the second half of the game.
However, the keeper was adamant about the fact that he never had any intentions to hurt the Argentine star despite Pau appearing to glance down on Messi’s legs before stepping on him.
The incident was blown out of proportion, says Lopez
The 21-year-old keeper claimed that it was a normal collision and that it was blown out of proportion due to the intensity on the pitch and inside the tunnel after the game. "Stepping on Messi's leg? I've never wanted to harm anyone. What happened with Messi is part of the game."
"That I came out there was just a reaction," he said, as quoted by AS. "It's all been blown out of proportion. It was just an incident in the game. I got hit in the face as well, these things happen in a game. I'd never go out on to the pitch to hurt a colleague,” he added.
Gerard Pique hit out at Espanyol and their self-proclaimed title of ‘the marvelous minority’ after the game, but Pau refused to hit back at the Spaniard.
"We know Gerard, he's someone who likes people to talk about him. He won't get an answer out of us," he commented.
I enjoyed this match more than any other I have played: Lopez
The meeting of city rivals Barcelona and Espanyol turned out to be an ill-tempered derby at the Nou Camp. The clash proved to be fierce and Espanyol were reduced to nine men after Papakouli Diop and Hernan Perez were sent off during the game. The referee had shown a total of 10 other bookings – six cautions for Espanyol and four for Barcelona.
However, the battle did not get over at the whistle and Luis Suarez could be fined for an incident inside the tunnel.
But Pau insists that he enjoyed the match more than any other, "I enjoyed this match more than any other I have played in. I enjoyed it like I was a kid," he said.
"When the whistle goes the match ends and we are all colleagues. If there were Barcelona players who didn't want to shake my hand that's their problem.”
“It's good to shake at the end of a match though because we are all professional colleagues. For anyone who comes through the youth system, playing against Barca is special. I'm happy to be able to wear the blue and white shirt and play in games like this."
Espanyol will host the second-leg of the tie on 13th of January.