BARCELONA — Lionel Messi hit a hat-trick as Barcelona began their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea suffered a shock home defeat.
Report by Reuters
Messi took his tally to 62 Champions League goals and became the first player to score more than four Champions League hat-tricks, while also netting his 24th such treble for Barca.
A day after Cristiano Ronaldo hit three in Real Madrid’s 6-1 thumping of Galatasaray; Messi reminded everyone who is still the four-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner.
Despite boasting eight European Cup and Champions League crowns between them, Barcelona and Ajax had never met before their Group H encounter at the Nou Camp.
And typically it was a dazzling display from Messi that got the 2009 and 2011 winners off to the ideal start.
And the diminutive wizard dedicated the victory to Barca coach Gerard Martino, who will fly home to Argentina to attend his father’s funeral.
“It was a special game. It is a shame what has happened and he is suffering, but we are all with him in this moment,” he said.
Messi’s first had an air of inevitability about it as he was first felled on the edge of the area and then stepped up to curl home a sumptuous free-kick.
And his second came in another of Messi’s classic moves as he took a pass from Sergio Busquets on the right before cutting inside onto his left foot to shoot home.
Centre-back Gerard Pique headed home a pinpoint Neymar cross from the left having stayed up for a corner.
But Messi didn’t allow anyone else to hog the limelight for long as he fired home his third from Xavi’s pass 15 minutes from time.
Things only got worse for Ajax as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson saw a penalty saved by Victor Valdes after Javier Mascherano had brought down Thurani Serero.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were stunned in the shock result of the night as FC Basle left Stamford Bridge with a 2-1 victory in Group E.
The hosts had seemed to be heading to a routine home victory when Brazilian Oscar put them ahead after quick, slick passes from David Luiz and Frank Lampard.
Oscar almost doubled the Londoners’ advantage with a splendid second half strike that crashed back off the bar.
But then Mohamed Salah bent the ball around Ashley Cole and inside the post on 71 minutes before Marco Streller headed home the unexpected winner from a corner.