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Messi treble downs Ajax in opening Barça spree

Published: Wednesday 18 September 2013, 22.58CET
FC Barcelona 4-0 AFC Ajax
Gerardo Martino's team are on the march in Group H after overcoming a spirited Ajax side with three goals from that man Lionel Messi.
by Graham Hunter
from Camp Nou

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Match statistics

BarcelonaAjax

Goals scored4
 
0
Possession (%)56
 
44
Total attempts15
 
7
on target9
 
6
off target6
 
1
blocked2
 
0
against woodwork0
 
0
Corners6
 
4
Offsides1
 
1
Yellow cards0
2
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed11
 
14
Fouls suffered13
 
11
Passes689
 
559
completed585
 
444

Standings

Last updated: 19/06/2014 23:27 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Wednesday 18 September 2013, 22.58CET

Messi treble downs Ajax in opening Barça spree

FC Barcelona 4-0 AFC Ajax
Gerardo Martino's team are on the march in Group H after overcoming a spirited Ajax side with three goals from that man Lionel Messi.

A brilliant Lionel Messi hat-trick, which leaves him within ten goals of overtaking Raúl González as the all-time UEFA Champions League top scorer, fuelled a powerful 4-0 win for FC Barcelona over AFC Ajax.

Gerard Piqué's second-half header added gloss but goalkeeper Víctor Valdés also earned an honourable mention for a string of good saves including from Kolbeinn Sigthórsson's 77th-minute penalty. The resulting Group H victory was the perfect introduction to the UEFA Champions League for Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino on matchday one.

There was a different sense of history right from the start as Frank de Boer's team began playing the patient, intelligent football for which they are historically famous – and which has inspired Barcelona from the days of the former coaches they share with Ajax: Vic Buckingham, Rinus Michels and, of course, Johan Cruyff.

Even if Neymar and Andrés Iniesta showed their intention of carrying the threat to Kenneth Vermeer's goalmouth at every possible occasion, the Dutch champions weathered the storm as best they could and started to construct good chances of their own. Nevertheless they were forced to do that from a position of deficit thanks to the man of the moment – in fact, of 62 such moments.

When Lerin Duarte committed a needless foul 25 metres from goal, immediately there was a sense of the inevitable. Messi is nothing if not an immensely competitive young man – all his fabulous talent aside – and seasoned watchers of the Barça No10 were widely predicting he would react to Cristiano Ronaldo's terrific treble for Real Madrid CF in Istanbul the previous night. He stepped up and scored, in the 22nd minute, with all the ease others would show for a one-metre tap-in.

Much as Martino's team looked at ease and worked hard after the breakthrough, the truth was that the visitors could have hit back twice, and indeed led, by half-time. Bojan Krkić, back at Camp Nou on loan with Ajax, bent a long raking cross from left to right on the half-hour and when Ricardo van Rhijn stooped to head on goal, it needed a top-quality reaction stop from Valdés. Then, before the break, a quick flowing move from the Amsterdam side ended with a firm drive into Valdés's midriff from Duarte.

That proved enough of an invitation for Messi to take charge. Playing with electric confidence he added the second on 55 minutes. Sergio Busquets broke forward, committed defenders and laid on a pass for the Argentinian maestro to skip around defender Stefano Denswil and score. Emphasis that this was the Blaugrana's night came when Neymar, on his competition debut, crossed a well-flighted assist which Piqué nodded over Vermeer with just over 20 minutes left.

The icing on the cake, from a deft Xavi Hernández assist, was Messi's slide-rule finish into the bottom corner for his third, Barça's fourth. The goal was his 62nd in the UEFA Champions League – and a move closer to all-time history.

Last updated: 14/04/14 16.35CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000479/match=2011766/postmatch/report/index.html#messi+treble+downs+ajax

Lineups

barcelona

Barcelona

ajax

Ajax

1
Víctor ValdésVíctor Valdés (GK) (C)
1
VermeerKenneth Vermeer (GK)
3
PiquéGerard Piqué
Goal69
Substitution80
2
Van RhijnRicardo van Rhijn
4
FàbregasCesc Fàbregas
Substitution71
4
MoisanderNiklas Moisander
Yellow Card24
Substitution73
8
IniestaAndrés Iniesta
5
C. PoulsenChristian Poulsen
9
Alexis SánchezAlexis Sánchez
8
DuarteLerin Duarte
10
MessiLionel Messi
Goal22
Goal55
Goal75
9
SigthórssonKolbeinn Sigthórsson
Penalty77
11
NeymarNeymar
Substitution72
10
S. de JongSiem de Jong (C)
Substitution59
14
MascheranoJavier Mascherano
11
Bojan KrkićBojan Krkić
16
BusquetsSergio Busquets
15
BoilesenNicolai Boilesen
21
AdrianoAdriano
17
BlindDaley Blind
Substitution78
22
Daniel AlvesDaniel Alves
24
DenswilStefano Denswil
Yellow Card85

Substitutes

13
PintoJosé Manuel Pinto (GK)
22
CillessenJasper Cillessen (GK)
2
MontoyaMartín Montoya
6
Van Der HoornMike van der Hoorn
Substitution73
6
Xavi HernándezXavi Hernández
Substitution71
7
FischerViktor Fischer
7
Pedro RodríguezPedro Rodríguez
Substitution72
19
SanaTobias Sana
15
BartraMarc Bartra
Substitution80
20
SchöneLasse Schöne
Substitution78
17
SongAlex Song
23
HoesenDanny Hoesen
20
TelloCristian Tello
25
SereroThulani Serero
Substitution59

Coach

Gerardo Martino (ARG) Frank de Boer (NED)

Referee

Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)

Assistant referees

Kim Thomas Haglund (NOR), Frank Andås (NOR)

Fourth official

Sven Erik Midthjell (NOR)

Additional assistant referees

Dag Vidar Hafsås (NOR), Svein-Erik Edvartsen (NOR)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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