Barcelona return after coronavirus lockdown with win and a pitch invader

It was the first time the Spanish reigning champions and current league leaders had played in 99 days

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - RCD Mallorca v FC Barcelona - Iberostar Stadium, Palma, Spain - June 13, 2020   Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)   REUTERS/Albert Gea

Lionel Messi scored and grabbed two assists as La Liga leaders Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win away to struggling Real Mallorca on Saturday, making the perfect return to action after Spanish football's three-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first La Liga matches were played Thursday but this was the first time the reigning champions and current league leaders had played in 99 days.
The game was played behind closed doors to prevent further spread of coronavirus, but a fan wearing an Argentina shirt somehow made it on to the pitch, only to be swiftly taken away by security guards.

The champions got off to a flying start when Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal scored with a diving header in the second minute, while Danish international Martin Braithwaite scored his first goal for Barca later in the first half.

Jordi Alba then added a third goal for Barca in the 79th minute after latching on to a through ball from Messi, who had also set up Braithwaite's goal. The Argentine then completed the scoring with a deflected strike in stoppage time.

The win takes Barca on to 61 points after 28 games, five clear of nearest challengers Real Madrid, who host Eibar on Sunday in their first game back.

Luis Suarez made his first appearance since injuring his knee six months ago, coming off the bench in the second half, while his fellow Uruguayan Ronald Araujo hit the post shortly before Alba struck.

Mallorca occupy the final relegation spot in La Liga but despite the heavy loss they gave a decent account of themselves, with 19-year-old Japanese playmaker Takefusa Kubo pulling the strings.

Kubo tested Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half while Ante Budimir, Lago Junior and Abdon Prats all flashed shots just wide of the target after the interval.

A supporter invades the pitch during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Mallorca and FC Barcelona at Son Moix Stadium in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Saturday, June 13, 2020. With virtual crowds, daily matches and lots of testing for the coronavirus, soccer is coming back to Spain. The Spanish league resumes this week more than three months after it was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Francisco Ubilla)
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS