Messi Double Seals Comfortable Barcelona Win on Historic Day

Aubrey Yates
October 1, 2017

With Camp Nou closed to fans due to clashes between protesters and police in Barcelona over the Catalan independence referendum, Barcelona defeated Las Palmas 3-0 on the strength of two second-half Messi strikes.

"We have decided instead of abandoning the game, which is what we all wanted, to play the game in an exceptional manner, which is to say behind closed doors".

Speaking to broadcaster beINSPORTS, Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu Floreta confirmed that "We are playing behind closed doors as a protest at what has happened [in the region], not for security reasons".

"FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression", a statement reads.

The victory has seen Ernesto Valverde's side move five points clear of second-place Sevilla in La Liga, while the gap from the leaders to sixth-place Real Madrid is now 10 points.

They were denied putting off the game and threatened with a six-point penalty by La Liga.

"So, we chose to play the game and do it behind closed doors so that [people] can see our disagreement..."

"We talked with the directors, the team and management team and we made a decision to play the game".

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Barcelona's opponents Las Palmas from the Canary Islands are wearing a specially-produced kit for the game featuring the date and a Spanish flag.

Without the usual rumble of the Camp Nou crowd, Barcelona laboured in finding their usual tempo over the first 30 minutes, although Messi inevitably looked like one of the hosts' more unsafe threats moving forward. 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.

And the five-time World Player of the Year then smashed home Luis Suarez's through ball for already his 14th goal of the season.

In a statement released later on Sunday, LaLiga claimed the fact that local police had been able to guarantee the safety of supporters led them to reject requests from Barcelona to postpone the match.

Bartomeu also responded to claims Barca vice-president Carles Vilarrubi could resign in protest at the club's decision to go ahead with the game.

"I have voted. Together we are unstoppable defending democracy", said Pique.

"It is unacceptable that in a democratic country people can not vote", added Xavi.

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