MADRID: Barcelona maintained their perfect start to La Liga with a sixth straight win as Luis Suarez and two own goals secured a 3-0 win at Girona in a match laced with political tension on Saturday.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, remain seven points behind Barca thanks to Dani Ceballos’s double on his full debut to bounce back from a shock midweek defeat by Real Betis with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday to move up to fourth.
Girona were hosting Barca in a Catalan derby for the first time in the top flight, but a one-sided game on the field was marked by persistent chants in favour of independence for Catalonia.
Catalonia’s pro-separatist president Carles Puigdemont was in attendance, whilst the pro-independence Estelada flag was waved by sections of both supports.
“The game had its difficulties,” said Barca boss Ernesto Valverde. “It’s a derby, there was a great atmosphere, tension. It is normal, but we played well.”
At Mendizorroza, Madrid were once again wasteful in front of goal, but still sneaked by an Alaves side that remain without a point after six games.
“Today we needed the three points. We are not in brilliant form, but for sure we will play better on other days,” said Real boss Zinedine Zidane. “When you go away having only scored two goals for the chances we had it isn’t a lot.”
Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Costa won’t be able to feature until January after completing his prolonged return to the club from Chelsea for a reported club record fee of €55 million, plus €10 million in add-ons.
“We are happy that a player of his stature wants to come to Atletico Madrid,” Atletico boss Diego Simeone said of Costa’s return.