Far more important and serious matters overshadowed events at the Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon but behind closed doors, Lionel Messi scored in a 3-0 win over Las Palmas twice to maintain Barcelona’s 100% start.
Despite a controversial and charged Catalonian independence referendum taking place in which more than 750 people were injured in clashes with police, La Liga forced Barcelona to play the fixture and so despite their reluctance, the league leaders played Las Palmas in an empty Camp Nou.
In the odd atmosphere of a silent stadium, Barcelona were poor during the first half and former Boca Juniors striker Jonathan Calleri came close to giving Las Palmas the lead when his shot hit the upright.
However, the home side came out after the break with a renewed vigour and swiftly took the lead when Sergio Busquets headed in from Lionel Messi’s corner.
Former River Plate goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola had so far denied Messi but in the 70th minute, Denis Suárez slipped in the Argentina captain and he waltzed around the forlorn keeper with ease to roll in the second.
Minutes later, Messi picked the ball up deep, exchanged passes before scoring his second and with it Barcelona cruised to victory.
The brace took Messi’s tally for 2017 to 45 and after only seven La Liga matches, the 30-year-old already has eleven.
The world’s best player will now travel to Argentina ahead of the World Cup qualifiers where La Albiceleste will be praying some of this goal scoring form comes with him.
Sevilla remain in second after a 2-0 win against Málaga and another of Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was on target. Éver Banega had only been on the pitch ten minutes after coming on as a second half substitute but opened the scoring from the penalty spot after the impressive Joaquín Correa had been tripped.