Around Europe: Barca play at empty Camp Nou amid Catalonia referendum chaos

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 in a game played behind closed doors after the Spanish league refused Barca’s plea to postpone the game on the day of the highly-charged Catalonia referendum.

At least 91 people were injured as Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and forced their way into activist-held polling stations over the independence vote deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club made the decision to play behind closed doors as a protest against the violent clashes rather than security concerns.

“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,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“We have done it behind closed doors so that everyone can see our opposition at what is happening,” added Bartomeu.

Had Barca refused to play the game they could have faced a three-point deduction from La Liga on top of forfeiting the match against Las Palmas.

“It was strange, I didn’t like it at all,” Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets, a Catalan and World Cup winner with Spain, told BeIN Sports Spain.

“We were aware of what had happened. I think the club evaluated the possibility (of not playing) but on a sporting level that penalised us a lot.”

The match itself was an understandably low-key affair as Barca opened up a five-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Barca’s players entered the field wearing a training top in the colours of the Catalan Senyera flag over their traditional blue and red home kit.

Meanwhile, Las Palmas wore a small Spanish flag on their shirts as a show of support for a united Spain.

Busquets openied the scoring and Messi calmly rounded Leandro Chichizola from Denis Suarez’s excellent pass to make it 2-0. 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.

Last night two goals form Isco saw Real Madrid win 2-0 against Espanyol.

Meanwhile in France, Lille chief executive Marc Ingla has questioned the safety of Amiens’ Stade de la Licorne after a barrier collapse left six supporters in hospital.

The Ligue 1 clash on Saturday was abandoned after a barrier at the front of the stand housing away supporters collapsed as fans celebrated a 15th-minute goal by Lille’s Fode Ballo-Toure. A Lille statement said: “Six people are still hospitalised this (Sunday) morning but the news is reassuring. Come back to us in good health.”

Ingla also criticised Amiens president Bernard Joannin who blamed Lille fans for the collapse of the safety barrier.

Joannin said on Saturday night that “200 very angry ultras launched themselves in a disorderly way” and pushed people on to the barrier after Ballo-Toure had scored.

Ingla said: “Moreover, it seems that the president of Amiens SC lacked lucidity and has rushed in his statements. Professional football demands a certain number of organisational requirements, and in this context, these statements seem inappropriate and irresponsible.”

Leaders PSG routed Bordeaux 6-2 on Saturday night.

In Germany, interim Bayern Munich coach Willy Sagnol said his side can no longer consider themselves the strongest in Germany after they let a two-goal lead slip to draw with Hertha Berlin. Sagnol has taken temporary charge following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure. The 2-2 draw left Bayern five points behind Borussia Dortmund.

Juventus left a two-goal lead slip and missed a penalty as they were held 2-2 at Atalanta in Serie A last night.

Challengers Roma struck a blow to AC Milan’s own plans to recapture past glories by downing the new-look Rossoneri at San Siro. A full-strength Milan team boasting the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva and Hakan Calhanoglu — the Turkey midfielder was later sent off—- could not resist a gritty attacking display from Roma, who struck twice in the second half through Edin Dzeko and the fit-again Alessandro Florenzi.

Earlier, prolific Napoli extended their fine domestic record to seven straight wins with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Cagliari.


Lifestyle

Dónal Clancy is a musician from An Rinn in Co Waterford. He will perform the music of his late father, Liam Clancy, in a special online solo performance on Thursday at 7pm as part of this year's Clonmel Junction Festival.Question of Taste: Dónal Clancy

BETWEEN 1973 and early 1975, John Lennon split with Yoko Ono, took up with his assistant May Pang and embarked on a period of intense creativity and outrageous behaviour. Lennon later described this time as his “lost weekend”.Rufus Wainwright has returned a new man

Stan O’Sullivan tells Ellie O’Byrne about the genre-busting album from 2007 that probably doesn’t get the recognition it deservesB-Side the Leeside - Cork’s Greatest Records: Louder & Clearer from Stanley Super 800

In recent times one of the most recurring and troubling conversations I have with teenagers, in therapy, is around their use of marijuana. Often parents seek out therapy because they have noticed a dramatic shift in their child’s behaviour.Richard Hogan: Beware of making light of your teen's marijuana use

More From The Irish Examiner