AP — Lionel Messi will miss at least two games after damaging ligaments in his right ankle during Barcelona’s 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona said medical exams performed Monday on the Argentina international’s ankle ruled out any fracture, as expected.
Messi will miss Spanish league matches against Sporting Gijon on Wednesday and Athletic Bilbao three days later. Barcelona plays Rubin Kazan in the Champions League on Sept. 29.
The 23-year-old world player of the year has scored seven goals in six games this season. He was injured after a challenge from Atletico defender Tomas Ujfalusi during added time in Sunday’s game.
Lionel Messi, who scored 47 goals last season, has been relatively injury-free for the past two seasons.
Messi’s last significant layoff came during the 2007-08 season when he had multiple leg muscle injuries, while a broken foot in 2006 sidelined him for three months. He missed Barcelona’s Champions League final win over Arsenal in 2006 due to a leg injury.
Ujfalusi, who will miss Atletico’s match against Valencia on Wednesday after being shown a straight red card, apologized for the clash.
“I wanted to publicly apologize because, sincerely, it was never my intention,” the Czech Republic defender said Monday. “With the speed we were both going I couldn’t stop. I just sent him a message now through the phone of (Sergio Aguero) to apologize.”
Leverkusen striker Kiessling out with leg injury
LEVERKUSEN, Germany —Bayer Leverkusen and Germany striker Stefan Kiessling will be sidelined for several days after injuring his left leg in a weekend Bundesliga match.
Leverkusen said Monday that the leg was put in a cast and Kiessling was ordered to rest for the next few days.
The club didn’t give an expected date for Kiessling’s return. Leverkusen already is missing Germany midfielder Michael Ballack with a leg injury.
Forward Patrick Helmes also went off with injury worries during Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Nuremberg but Leverkusen said he may miss only Wednesday’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Coach Jupp Heynckes said that “bad luck with injuries already is hitting us very hard in the early phase of the season.”
Leverkusen is eighth in the league standings with five points.
Valencia 2, Hercules 1
Earlier, Juanma Mata and Pablo Hernandez scored first-half goals as Valencia beat Hercules 2-1 to maintain its perfect start and go top of the league with nine points.
Spain forward Mata opened after two minutes before Hernandez made it 2-0 from a free kick in the 24th minute.
Former France striker David Trezeguet scored his first goal for Hercules, which was coming off a 2-0 victory over Barcelona, with a penalty before halftime.
Real Madrid, which beat Real Sociedad 2-1 on Saturday, is second with seven points while Barcelona, Atletico, Espanyol and Villarreal have six points.
Villareal 2, Levante 1
Nilmar scored two first-half goals to lead Villarreal to a 2-1 win at Levante, which pulled one back through Felipe Caicedo in stoppage time.
Racing Santander 2, Zaragoza 0
Henrique and Ariel Nahuelpan scored second half goals as Racing Santander beat Zaragoza 2-0. Sevilla played Malaga later.
Barcelona showed the surprise defeat to promoted Hercules was forgotten as it arrived in the Spanish capital on the heels of a 5-1 Champions League win over Panathinaikos.
While Atletico kept Barcelona from settling into its flowing passing game with early pressure, the visitor struck first.
David Villa broke free on goal against the run of play and beat goalkeeper David De Gea, but his shot bounced off the post and fell to Pedro Rodriguez, who slipped to Messi to score with a left-footed shot. The Argentina forward, who joined Barcelona at 13, notched his second league goal and seventh of the campaign.
Barcelona mostly controlled the play until Atletico equalized after Sergio Aguero and Simao Sabrosa combined for a chance that provided the corner kick for Garcia’s equalizer.
Atletico appealed for a handball as Forlan’s shot from outside the area was blocked in the 32nd, with Messi racing all the way to the other end to be foiled.
Pique showed composure to chest down a corner for his goal, but Barcelona’s backline looked vulnerable on set pieces as ‘keeper Victor Valdes snatched Ujfalusi’s header from a corner out of the air in the 41st.
Xavi put Villa through before halftime but the Spain striker over-stretched his pass to Pedro in front of the open goal.
De Gea jumped to block Xavi’s hard shot moments before Aguero, who had been an injury doubt before kickoff, was replaced by Diego Costa in the 52nd.
The Catalans maintained better opportunities after the restart but De Gea was to strong as he stopped Villa’s angled shot in the 69th. Villa then sent a clear chance from inside the area over goal following a mistake by Atletico defender Luis Perea four minutes later.
De Gea rushed out to block Villa again in the 77th and then stopped Messi from up close in the 86th before Valdes easily stopped Reyes’ deflected chance.