BARCELONA: Barcelona began life without Lionel Messi by beating Real Sociedad in their Spanish league opener.
Gerard Pique opened the scoring for Barca with a powerful header from Memphis Depay’s free-kick.
Martin Braithwaite scored either side of half-time to become the first Danish player to score a La Liga brace.
Real Sociedad pulled it back to 3-2 through Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal but Sergi Roberto added a fourth for Barcelona in added time.
It was fitting that Barca’s first goal of the season was scored by Pique after the defender agreed to reduce his wages earlier in the week so the club could register new signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj for the new season.
Many of the 22,000 Barcelona fans wore Messi shirts to the Nou Camp and chanted for their record goalscorer in the 10th minute after he joined Paris St-Germain on a two-year deal earlier in the week.
New signing Sergio Aguero, who has been ruled out for 10 weeks with a calf injury, watched from the sidelines.
Elsewhere in La Liga, defending champions Atletico Madrid started the season with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo, while their city rivals Real Madrid beat Alaves 4-1 in their season opener on Saturday.