Lionel Messi brace gives Barcelona victory in empty Camp Nou
La Liga, Camp Nou, - Barcelona 3 (Busquets 49', Messi 70', 77') Las Palmas 0
The game was played behind closed doors as Barcelona protested that it shouldn't be played at all following clashes during the Catalonia independence referendum. The club’s request for a postponement was rejected by the league body, with confusion reigning as the Las Palmas took the field to warm up 30 minutes before kick off. It was only at 3pm that an official announcement was made that the game would be played in an empty stadium.
Busquets opened the scoring just after the half-time break, flicking home a corner kick at the near post. Las Palmas had held their own up until that point, but the introduction of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic gave Barca more creativity in the final third, pressing home the hosts’ superiority.
Messi struck twice to put the result beyond any doubt, but not before Iniesta was taken off after picking up a knock. Whether or not the injury is serious could put a dampener on what was already a difficult game for Barcelona.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi during the matchReuters
TALKING POINT - Why was this game played in the first place?
Everything about this game and the circumstances it was played in was farcical. From the way thousands of fans were left outside Camp Nou without clarification on whether they were being let in or not, to La Liga’s refusal to postpone the fixture given everything that happened in Catalonia. This game should never have happened and the empty stands at the Camp Nou were testament to that.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Denis Suarez (Barcelona)
Of all the players who seem to have been rejuvenated by new Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, Denis Suarez tops the list. The midfielder has become a key figure for the Catalans and this performance demonstrated why, pulling the strings alongside Iniesta and Rakitic in the second half. He must be considered a starter from this point on.
Denis Suarez of FC Barcelona controls the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Las Palmas at Camp Nou on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. The match is being played with empty stands after the events occured in Catalonia during the votinGetty Images
PRE-MATCH: There was confusion over whether this match would be played, with several outlets reporting that it had been postponed. But La Liga refused Barcelona’s request to postpone it and so the decision was taken to play it behind closed doors.
44’ OFF THE POST! Las Palmas come within inches of finding the opener! Calleri takes aim from inside the box and crashes the strike off the woodwork! Ter Stegen had no chance with that.
49’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Las Palmas: There's the breakthrough and it has gone the way of Barcelona! Busquets leaps highest at the near post to glance home a corner kick delivery. The hosts finally have the lead!
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona advances with the ball under pressure from Hernan Santana of UD Las Palmas during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Las Palmas at Camp Nou on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.Getty Images
59’ MESSI MISSES A SITTER! It's not often you see that. Suarez fights for the ball and clips a cross into the area. Messi gets on the end of it, but somehow plants a header wide from about eight yards out.
70’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Las Palmas: That goal should settle things. Suarez plays the reverse pass to release Messi through on goal and the Argentine makes no mistake in rounding the keeper and finishing into the empty net.
77’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas: There's the goal that puts the finishing touches on this win for Barcelona, and what a goal it was! Messi and Suarez play a one-two, with the former slotting home the finish.
84’ INIESTA INJURED? This could be a problem for Barcelona. Iniesta appears to have picked up some sort of knock. That would be a dampener on this second half performance.
88’ SUAREZ GOAL RULED OUT! The Barcelona number nine finds the corner of the net with an overhead kick, but he pushed a Las Palmas defender out of the way to get to the ball.
Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets (R) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas played behind closed doors at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 1, 2017.Getty Images
Lionel Messi has scored 45 goals for Barcelona in 2017, 4 more than any other La Liga player (in all competitions).
Messi has scored in 15 of his last 16 La Liga apps at Camp Nou, scoring 28 times during that run.
Sergio Busquets scored his first Barcelona goal since November 2014.