2017-2018 Spanish Primera División
  • Sergio Busquets (49')
  • Lionel Messi (70', 77')

Barcelona see off Las Palmas at empty Camp Nou

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 at a deserted Camp Nou in a match overshadowed by politics.

The Liga clash was played behind closed doors after Barca's request for it to be postponed amid unrest during the Catalonia independence referendum was rejected.

Struggling Las Palmas, with Pako Ayestaran in charge for the first time, responded well to the unusual situation and hit the post in the first half, but leaders Barca eventually took control.

Sergio Busquets broke the deadlock after the interval and Messi secured Barca's seventh win from seven games with two typically well-taken finishes.

Confusion had reigned in the hours before the game, which it had seemed would be called off owing to the chaos around Catalonia.

But any postponement would have been at Barca's request, and the authorities refused. Facing possible sanctions including forfeiture of the points, Barca announced just 20 minutes before the scheduled kick-off that they would play behind closed doors.

Las Palmas started the better, and Borja Valero flashed a shot across goal, but Barca responded with Sergi Roberto shooting at Leandro Chichizola.

Messi tested Chichizola with a free kick from the edge of the area and the keeper reacted quickly to deal with Denis Suarez' follow-up attempt.

But the visitors remained unflustered and enjoyed greater possession as the first half went on.

Oussama Tannane fired a long-range effort at Marc-Andre ter Stegen before turning provider for Jonathan Calleri to drill a low shot against the woodwork.

It was not until after the break that Barca began to play with greater intensity.

Messi forced Chichizola to deal with another free kick before Ivan Rakitic had an effort tipped over.

The breakthrough came four minutes after the restart when Busquets glanced home a Messi corner at the near post.

Tannane broke and fired wide after cutting inside as Las Palmas looked for a quick equalizer, but Barca turned up the pressure again.

Messi had another attempt beaten away by Chichizola and then planted a firm header wide after good work from Luis Suarez, who was also booked for diving after being played through on goal.

Another good chance fell to Messi after a corner but he dragged his shot wide.

In the 70th minute, he made amends as Denis Suarez cut inside and played a fine reverse pass into the box, where Messi took the ball round Chichizola to tap in his 13th goal of the season.

There was a brief interruption as a protester got onto the pitch but the situation was quickly dealt with by security and Messi scored his second goal moments later.

This time, he raced onto Luis Suarez' pass and fired it past Chichizola before the keeper had a chance to react.

That ended the game as a contest and Barca eased to three more points as they won for the seventh time in a row.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Barcelona 20 +27 43
2 Real Madrid 20 +25 43
3 Atletico Madrid 20 +8 35
4 Sevilla FC 20 +5 35
5 Getafe 20 +9 33
6 Real Sociedad 20 +5 31
7 Valencia 20 +1 31
8 Athletic Bilbao 20 +7 30
9 Villarreal 20 +6 28
10 Granada 20 -1 27
11 Real Betis 20 -3 27
12 Levante 20 -4 26
13 Osasuna 20 +1 25
14 Alavés 20 -8 23
15 Real Valladolid 20 -6 22
16 Eibar 20 -9 22
17 Mallorca 20 -12 18
18 Celta Vigo 20 -13 16
19 Leganes 20 -17 14
20 Espanyol 20 -21 14