Lionel Messi was at the centre of a headbutting controversy on Wednesday as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 victory over Serie A side Roma in a pre-season friendly at the the Spanish club's stadium Camp Nou.
The Argentinian superstar, renowned for rarely losing his cool despite regularly being the target of brutal tackling, reacted angrily during a confrontation with Roma's French international Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Footage of the first half incident showed Messi aiming a headbutt at Yanga-Mbiwa's after the Roma defender appeared to nod his head in the direction of the diminutive South American star.
A furious Messi grabbed Yanga-Mbiwa by the throat after clashing with the defender before other players rushed over to intervene.
Messi escaped a red card for the incident but received a caution from the referee Javier Estrada Fernandez. Yanga-Mbiwa was also booked.
In one of the rare occurrences, Messi lost his temper in Barcelona's pre-season friendly against Italian side AS Roma. (AFP Photo)
The flashpoint represented a rare loss of cool for Messi. The Argentine has never been sent off for Barcelona and has only ever been red-carded once -- on his international debut as a teenager in 2005.
Messi's anger soon subsided; moments after the incident, he doubled Barcelona's lead, making it a 2-0 lead following a superb flowing move involving Luis Suarez, Dani Alves and Neymar, who had scored Barcelona's first goal.
Ivan Rakitic made it 3-0 in the second half with a long-range strike as Barcelona completed a routine win.
Defending champions Barcelona will kick off the 2015-2016 season of La Liga against Athletic Bilbao on August 23.