Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 with Camp Nou closed to fans in light of the circumstances around Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum.
Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi were on target at Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 behind closed doors at Camp Nou, preserving their 100 per cent record in LaLiga against a backdrop of unrest surrounding Catalonia’s independence referendum.
LaLiga chiefs rejected a request from Barcelona to postpone the match in light of violent scenes that marred Sunday’s vote and left 465 people injured according to the Catalan health ministry, after the referendum was declared to be unconstitutional by the country’s national government
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu explained the decision to play at an empty Camp Nou was borne out of solidarity and a “rejection of what has been experienced” as the stadium scoreboard bore the message “Democracia”, featuring an illustration of a ballot box.
But a home side featuring five Catalans were seemingly unsettled by the circumstances and their surroundings during a listless first-half showing. Las Palmas enjoyed the greater share of possession and hit the post through Jonathan Calleri, with Barca’s only advantage appearing in a 4-0 yellow card count at the break.
The half-time introduction of Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta by Ernesto Valverde proved inspired as their midfield colleague Busquets – one of the Catalan contingent – crowned Barcelona’s most convincing passage of play by breaking the deadlock in the 49th minute.
Messi then came to the fore in typical style with a brace inside the final 20 minutes to increase Barcelona’s advantage over Real Madrid to 10 points before their rivals host Espanyol later on Sunday, although a late injury to Iniesta took some shine off the win.