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No Messi, no problem for Barcelona against Sociedad

Goals from Pique, Braithwaite and Roberto seals the deal in the Catalans’ season opener

Barcelona started life without Lionel Messi by defeating Real Sociedad 4-2 in its LaLiga opener at the Camp Nou on Sunday even if fans admitted it felt like “a leap into the unknown”.

Captain Gerard Pique gave it a 19th minute lead with his 50th goal for the club.

Martin Braithwaite found the net in first half injury time and in the 59th minute. Sergi Roberto added a fourth in the last minute of the game. Just over 20,000 fans were in attendance as crowds returned for the first time since the pandemic.

Brief comeback

However, they had to hold their breath at one stage when Sociedad came back from 3-0 down to get to 3-2 thanks to goals from 20-year-old Julen Lobete in the 82nd minute and a 30-metre free-kick from skipper Mikel Oyarzabal three minutes later.

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi called time on his two-decade career at Barcelona last week and moved to Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi’s memory lingered heavy over the Camp Nou on Sunday despite the removal of a giant photograph of the Argentine superstar from the entrance in the wake of his move to France.

Venting their anger

Some banners were in place well before kick-off venting the fans anger towards president Joan Laporta.

One read “Laporta, Barca is not your business”, while another proclaimed “Barca yes, Laporta no!”

The results: LaLiga: Celta Vigo 1 (Aspas 59-pen) lost to Atletico Madrid 2 (Correa 23, 63); Barcelona 4 (Pique 19, Braithwaite 45+2, 59, Roberto 90+1) bt Real Sociedad 2 (Lobete Cienfuegos 82, Oiarzabal 85); Sevilla 3 (En-Nesyri 19-pen, Lamela 55, 79) bt Rayo Vallecano 0.

Bundesliga: Cologne 3 (Modeste 41, Kainz 52, 55) bt Hertha Berlin 1 (Jovetic 6).

Premier League: Tottenham 1 (Son 55) bt Man City 0.

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