Gerardo Martino enjoyed a comfortable first night of UEFA Champions League action, with his FC Barcelona side winning 4-0 in their maiden meeting with fellow four-time European Cup winners AFC Ajax.
Lionel Messi, UEFA Champions League top scorer for four years in a row before Cristiano Ronaldo stole his crown last season, does not look likely to give up without a fight this term. Where the Portugal forward hit a hat-trick for Real Madrid CF on opening night, Messi duly followed suit against Ajax. The Argentina forward now has four UEFA Champions League hat-tricks, more than any other player. Gerard Piqué was also on the mark for the Azulgrana, with the Eredivisie title holders spurning the chance for a consolation from the penalty spot. In the other game in Group H, AC Milan struck twice in the last eight minutes to see off Celtic FC.
Group F, one of the toughest sections to call, has taken some early shape following 2-1 victories for Arsenal FC and SSC Napoli. The Gunners prevailed at Olympique de Marseille courtesy of Theo Walcott and the in-form Aaron Ramsey, while Rafael Benítez's team picked up three points against the 2012/13 runners-up thanks to goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and Lorenzo Insigne. Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller was sent off on the stroke of half-time in Naples. Both OM and Dortmund halved their arrears late on but it was too little, too late.
Chelsea FC – whom Benítez guided to last season's UEFA Europa League title – did not enjoy such a good start, losing 2-1 at home to FC Basel 1893, the club they eliminated in the semi-finals en route to triumphing in Amsterdam in May. The west Londoners were previously unbeaten in 13 European matches at Stamford Bridge. Sitting atop Group E are FC Schalke 04, 3-0 victors over FC Steaua Bucureşti in Gelsenkirchen.
FK Austria Wien, the only group stage debutants involved this term, marked their bow in the competition proper with a 1-0 home defeat by FC Porto. Club Atlético de Madrid won 3-1 against FC Zenit in the other Group G fixture.
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