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Messi stars as Barca thrash Celtic

14 September 2016, 08:06

Barcelona - Lionel Messi scored a hat trick and Neymar excelled as a playmaker to lead Barcelona to a record-setting 7-0 win over Celtic in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Celtic missed a penalty in a miserable night for the Scottish visitors.

Neymar set up Messi to score twice in the first half hour at Camp Nou before the Brazil striker struck from a free kick just after halftime.

Neymar kept pouring it on, crossing for substitute Andres Iniesta to fire in a vicious volley.

Messi took his career tally to 86 goals in Europe's top-tier competition before Luis Suarez rounded off the rout with a pair of goals.

The 7-0 victory surpassed Barcelona's biggest win in the Champions League to date, a 7-1 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen in 2012.

Long gone was the firepower Brendan Rodger's team displayed in Celtic's 5-1 rout of fierce Scottish rival Rangers on Saturday.

Instead, Barcelona improved on the 6-1 win over Celtic from their last meeting in 2013.

It was the first joint-start this season for Messi and Neymar, after Neymar missed Barcelona's first four matches helping his country win the Olympic gold medal.

The two stars, who played in the last half hour of Saturday's stunning 2-1 loss to Alaves in la Liga, needed just three minutes to link up and put Barcelona in charge.

Neymar used a clever, no-look pass to play Messi clear on the left side of the area. Messi did the rest by sizing up Dorus de Vries before blasting a left-footed shot past the Celtic 'keeper.

It got even better from there.

The second goal was a brilliant piece of shared playmaking that undid Celtic completely, as the ball flowed from Messi to Neymar and back again for him to nudge over the line in the 27th.

Three minutes earlier, Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made up for his foul in the area on Moussa Dembele by blocking his resulting penalty kick to deny Celtic its only scoring chance.

Goal No. 3 came in the 50th when Neymar curled a free kick over the barrier. De Vries got a hand on the ball but not enough to keep it out.

Iniesta blasted his volley home in the 59th, seconds before Messi slid to tap in Luis Suarez's pass.

Suarez added a bit of his own flourish to the demolition when he took Neymar's lob on the chest, before swivelling and beating De Vries with a left-footed blast in the 75th.

Suarez got his second from a low cross from Messi.

Five-time champion Barcelona extended its winning streak at home in European competition to 12 straight matches.


- AP


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