Barcelona maintained their flawless start to the season but their 3-0 victory over Las Palmas was overshadowed by events off the pitch.
Sunday’s La Liga clash at the Camp Nou was initially postponed before being played behind closed doors due to safety concerns, as protests related to the Catalonian independence referendum gripped the city.
Matters on the pitch were far less complicated in the end for Ernesto Valverde’s side as a Sergio Busquets goal and a Lionel Messi double overcame a stubborn Las Palmas outfit.
The victory, Barca’s seventh from seven games, maintains the Catalans’ five-point lead at the top of the Primera Division, while Las Palmas remain in 17th.
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi.
Keen not to forfeit the game and lose six points, Barca went ahead with the game and entered a deserted Camp Nou wearing shirts in the style of the flag of Catalonia, the Estelada, while Las Palmas’ shirts were emblazoned with the Spanish flag in an alleged display of Spanish unity.
With 98,000 supporters absent, Barca understandably struggled to reproduce the form behind their blistering start to the season, Lionel Messi’s 21st-minute free-kick drawing a fine save from Leandro Chichizola with the hosts’ first substantial effort.
Paulinho glanced a header wide on 33 minutes but, without the burden of a passionate home crowd, Las Palmas thrived and frustrated Barca and almost took the lead when Jonathan Calleri struck the post.
Valverde brought on Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic at the break in a bid to gain control, and, after Messi drew another save from Chichizola with another free-kick, their midfield colleague Busquets delivered just that, glancing home from a Messi corner.
The bright Oussama Tannane then fired wide as Las Palmas sought an immediate response, before Messi failed to hit the target, heading a Luis Suarez header wide on 56 minutes.
But Messi eventually continued his sensational goalscoring run to put the game beyond Las Palmas, rounding Chichizola on 70 minutes before putting the finishing touch to Denis Suarez’s inch-perfect through ball as Barca ended a day of high drama on a positive note.