Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Catalonia protests overshadow Barcelona, Madrid victories

Published:Monday | October 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Barcelona’s LaLiga match against Las Palmas is played without fans at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain yesterday, amid the controversial referendum on Catalonia’s independence. Lionel Messi, with two goals, and Sergio Busquets gave Barcelona a 3-0 win.

MADRID (AP):

In a day marked by demonstrations over Catalonia's disputed independence vote, Barcelona won their seventh game in a row and Real Madrid clinched their first victory at home in the Spanish league yesterday.

Barcelona defeated Las Palmas 3-0 to stay perfect with two goals by Lionel Messi and one by Sergio Busquets in a game played in an empty Camp Nou Stadium to protest the Spanish government's attempt to halt Catalonia's referendum.

Real Madrid beat Catalan club Espanyol 2-0 with a pair of goals by Isco in a match in which Madrid fans displayed cards with the Spanish flag colours.

The cards were raised in the 12th minute in a reference to the supporters being the club's 12th player.

Some of the few Espanyol fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium held up the colours of the Catalan flag.

Las Palmas added a Spanish flag to the shirts that the players wore against Barcelona to show their support for a unified Spain.

Catalonia's health services said more than 800 people were injured by police yesterday, with two of them in serious condition, as Spanish authorities tried to stop the independence vote that the central government said was unconstitutional.

POSTPONING THE GAME

Barcelona, which openly backed the referendum, wanted to postpone the game, but their request was denied by the Spanish league. They decided to play to avoid losing points, but kept the stadium empty "to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened (in Catalonia)," club president Josep Bartomeu said.

Barcelona maintained a five-point lead over second-place Sevilla, which on Saturday defeated Malaga 2-0 at home.

Unbeaten Valencia moved to third place, six points behind Barcelona, with a 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao.

Fourth-place Atletico Madrid could not manage more than a 0-0 draw at Leganes on Saturday, staying six points off the lead.