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Monday, October 2, 2017

Bayern begin life after Ancelotti by squandering two-goal lead in draw at Hertha

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 in a match overshadowed by politics at a deserted Nou Camp.
The LaLiga clash was played behind closed doors after Barca's request for it to be postponed amid local unrest during the Catalonia independence referendum was rejected.
Struggling Las Palmas, with Pako Ayestaran in charge for the first time, initially responded well to the unusual situation and hit the post in the first half but league leaders Barca eventually took control.
Sergio Busquets broke the deadlock after the interval and Messi secured Barca's seventh win from seven games with two typically well-taken finishes.
Confusion reigned in the hours preceding the game as it seemed it would be called off owing to the chaos around Catalonia as the region went to the polls.
But any postponement would have been at Barca's request and Spanish authorities refused. Facing possible sanction, including forfeiture of the match points, Barca announced just 20 minutes before the scheduled kick-off that they would play, but behind closed doors.
In this odd atmosphere, Las Palmas started the better and Borja Valero flashed a shot across goal.
Barca responded with Sergi Roberto shooting at Leandro Chichizola before Luis Suarez was flagged narrowly offside.
Messi tested Chichizola with a free-kick from the edge of the area and the keeper reacted quickly to deal with Denis Suarez's follow-up attempt.
But the visitors remained unflustered and enjoyed greater possession as the first half went on.
Oussama Tannane fired a long-range effort at Marc-Andre ter Stegen before turning provider for Jonathan Calleri to drill a low shot against the woodwork.
It was not until after the break that Barca began to play with greater intensity.
Messi forced Chichizola to deal with another free-kick before Ivan Rakitic had an effort tipped over.
The breakthrough came four minutes after the restart when Busquets glanced home a Messi corner at the near post.
Tannane broke and fired wide after cutting inside as Las Palmas looked for a quick equaliser but Barca turned up the pressure again.
Messi had another attempt beaten away by Chichizola and then planted a firm header wide after good work from Luis Suarez.
Luis Suarez also got himself booked for diving after being played through on goal and shaping to go round Chichizola.
Another good chance fell to Messi after a corner but the Argentinian dragged his shot wide.
He looked frustrated by his wastefulness but he did not need to wait long to make amends.
In the 70th minute as Denis Suarez cut inside and played a fine reverse pass into the box, Messi timed his run perfectly and casually took the ball round Chichizola to tap in his 13th goal of the season.
There was a brief interruption as a protester got onto the field but the situation was quickly dealt with by security and Messi had a second goal moments later.
There were similarities with his first goal as he raced onto Luis Suarez's first-time pass but this time he fired past Chichizola before the keeper had a chance to react.
That ended the game as a contest and Barca eased to three more points.