Barcelona got their La Liga season off to a winning start on Sunday, beating Real Betis 2-0 at a emotional Camp Nou following a pair of terrorist attacks in Catalonia.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde conceded it was vital for his side to help lift spirits in the Catalan capital by beating Real Betis 2-0 in their La Liga opener on Sunday.
Twin terrorist attacks on Thursday killed 14 people and wounded around 120 in Barcelona's bustling Las Ramblas thoroughfare and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.
"Today was a special day in many ways," Valverde said after his first league match in charge of the Spanish giants.
"We started La Liga, but we are aware of the importance of the events that took place this week in Barcelona and Cambrils."
An emotional day at the Camp Nou was filled with tributes to those killed and injured in the most deadly terror attack on Spanish soil in 13 years.
A minute's silence was held before kick-off, whilst Barcelona players wore black armbands and shirts with 'Barcelona' replacing individual names on the back.
On the field, Valverde's reign got off to a difficult start with a 5-1 aggregate thrashing in the Spanish Super Cup at the hands of rivals Real Madrid.
However, despite the absence of the injured Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta, captain Lionel Messi inspired Barca to a comfortable win thanks to an Alin Tosca own goal and midfielder Sergi Roberto's first La Liga goal.
"We know of the solidarity that has risen up not just here, but in all parts of the city," added Valverde.
"We couldn't let that down. I said yesterday our idea was to move forward, to give a feeling of normality.
"At the same time we wanted to honour all the victims of the attacks, albeit in our own way, by winning the game, and we will continue to think of them and our life here in Barcelona."
Betis defender Alin Tosca diverted a cross from the lively Gerard Deulofeu into his own net to put Barca ahead in the 36th minute, while the former Everton forward, who returned to his boyhood club this summer, also laid on the pass for the second goal which was smashed in by Sergi Roberto in the 39th.
Lionel Messi was the fulcrum of most of Barca's creativity and more responsibility was placed on his shoulders due to the absence of Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta.
But the Argentine was denied a goal, hitting the woodwork three times.
With the mayor of Cambrils Cami Mendoza and chiefs of Catalonia's regional police force among those watching on, captain Lionel Messi led by example with Deolofeu and Paco Alcacer, who struggling to fill Suarez’s shoes up front.
Messi smashed an early free-kick off the post and his presence was enough to pressure Alin Tosca to turn Deulofeu's low cross into his own net for the opener nine minutes before half-time.
Deulofeu was the provider once more when Barca doubled their advantage three minutes later as Sergi Roberto slotted home from close range.
Messi also posed the biggest threat of a low key second-half as he struck the woodwork twice more with rasping shots from outside the area.
There was a solemn feeling at the Nou Camp before and during the game with only 56,480 supporters at the 99,000-capacity arena. The club announced it had granted fans' requests to return tickets in the wake of Thursday's attacks, which killed 14 people and injured more than 100.
"It was a moving tribute, we wanted to celebrate this victory and I dedicated the (first) goal to the victims and their families," Deulofeu told reporters.
"What happened was terrible, we hope something like this never happens again. We are not afraid but this needs to stop. This victory was for them."
Fans in the Barca singing section borrowed a line from the club's anthem in a banner that read: "No one can ever break us," whilst chants of "we are not afraid" rang out after the minute's silence.
"We can't live with fear, which is exactly the mentality that these situations normally cause and people don't want to leave the house," said Vanessa Hano, 28, an American Barcelona resident.
"I thought there would be like a collective hysteria but I see everything is normal," added Sandra Lorenzo, 41, as she sold drinks next to the stadium.
"I have worked here for 25 years at every match. They are not going to make me stay at home."
Prior to the attacks, Barca had endured a difficult start to the season on the field as shorn of Neymar following his world record 222 million euro ($261 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalans were swept aside 5-1 on aggregate by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.
Rivals Real Madrid began their pursuit of back-to-back league titles for the first time since 2008 with a 3-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna with goals from Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Toni Kroos, although captain Sergio Ramos was sent off in the dying seconds, earning a 23rd career red card.
In Coruna, Deportivo made a flying start against Real but wasted three early chances to surprise the champions.
The first two fell to Romanian striker Florin Andone, who was twice foiled by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Real, by contrast, were utterly ruthless.
Isco and Marcelo drove Zinedine Zidane’s side forward from the left and moved the ball for Luka Modric to shoot at goal. The Croatian’s tame shot slipped out of the hands of goalkeeper Ruben Martinez to the feet of Karim Benzema, who rolled the ball across for Bale to nudge home.
Real then showed their class with their second goal after a long period of possession, with Marcelo sliding the ball to the far post where Casemiro was waiting to tuck into the unguarded net, completing a move involving 44 passes.
"We aspire to play like this and we know we have the players to do it and we have worked very hard to score a goal like the second and we are all delighted with it," Zidane told reporters.
"We're very happy with how the game went although not with what happened to Sergio. In general we're happy because this isn't an easy place to go, Deportivo can cause you problems and they had their chances today."
Toni Kroos met a Bale cutback to strike Real's third in the 62nd minute while Deportivo striker Florin Andone completed a miserable night by squandering a late penalty.
Spain centre back Ramos, who has never been sent off in 143 games for his country, earned a second yellow card in injury time, joining Pablo Alfaro and Xavi Aguado on a La Liga record of 18 red cards.