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Messi shines in Barca win

updated 5:27 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
A black cat inavded the pitch before the Barca game, but brought no bad omesn as they won 3-0
A black cat inavded the pitch before the Barca game, but brought no bad omesn as they won 3-0
  • Barcelona stormed to an easy 3-0 win against Elche
  • Black cat invades pitch before game, but doesn't bring bad luck
  • Barca reduced to 10 men, but Messi shines
  • Minnows SD Eibar win first game

(CNN) -- Barcelona put a turbulent few months behind them by sweeping aside Elche 3-0 at the Nou Camp in their opening game of the Spanish season.

Lionel Messi was the standout player as he scored twice and Barcelona dominated despite having Javier Mascherano sent off and playing the whole of the second half with ten men.

The omens initially were not good for Barcelona.

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The club ended last season empty handed under Gerado Martino. The club's president Sandro Rosell had to resign over alleged irregularities surrounding the Neymar transfer. And star striker Lionel Messi has been embroiled in allegations of tax avoidance.

Black cat = bad luck?

But, more importantly, a black cat somehow found itself in the stadium a minute after kick off and delayed the match. It evaded several tackles before nonchalantly walking off the pitch on its own terms. A steward managed to grab the cat as it attempted to enter the stands and received several scratches for his troubles.

Messi, perhaps taking a leaf out of the feline invader's playbook, evaded several challenges of his own to fire Barcelona ahead before half time.

But a few minutes later Barcelona were down to ten men when Mascherano brought down Elche striker Rodrigues. He was the last defender and, deservedly, received a straight red card.

But you wouldn't have known that it was Barcelona down to ten men given their second half performance. They enjoyed 79 per cent of possession as Messi added a second. There was also a goal for 18 year old La Masia graduate Munir.

The whereabouts of the black cat is currently unknown.

The underdog's underdog

Meanwhile arguably one of the biggest underdogs in the history of top level Spanish football started life in La Liga with a shock victory.

A few months ago it wasn't even clear whether SD Eibar -- a club from a Basque town of just 28,000 people which had never played in the top tier of Spanish football before -- would even be allowed to play.

The club appeared to fall foul of some idiosyncratic financial rules. Despite being self-sustaining and completely free of debt -- unlike a host of other Spanish clubs -- Eibar faced the prospect of relegation to Spanish football's third tier.


A 1999 decree requires every team to have a capital equal to 25 per cent of the average expenses of all sides in the second division, excluding the two clubs with the biggest outgoings and the two with the smallest.

It meant Eibar had to raise €1.7 million ($2.3 million) if they wanted to play in the top division.

But a social media campaign allowed the club to raise the necessary cash to compete, a campaign that Basque rivals Real Sociedad probably wish had failed.

The two met in a Basque derby on the first day of the season, but it was Eibar that snatched a historic 1-0 victory thanks to Javi Lara's first half free kick.

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