Former Barcelona and Valencia striker David Villa was sent off in a pre-season friendly between New York City and Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
The 35-year-old was caught via video technology punching an opposing player in the face in the Desert Diamond Cup.
The incident occurred in the 37th minute with the game at 1-1 (Villa having scored New York’s goal) as Andrea Pirlo took a corner. Initially, the referee had brandished Villa with a yellow card and awarded a free-kick to Dynamo. But just as play looked to be getting back underway the referee blew his whistle and signalled a box shape with his hands. The referee then ran over to the sidelines and watched the incident back on a monitor, using VAR (video assistant referee).
Players from both sides began to congregate in the middle, with Villa and victim AJ DeLaGarza still arguing over what happened. Nearly four minutes since the original incident passed before the referee trotted back onto the pitch and asked to see Villa. The official once again made the box shape with his hands before producing a straight red card.
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