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.
The group stage is always complicated. We are adapting to Martino's philosophy. We were better in the second half.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona forward
I was satisfied with the first half, we created as many chances as they did. We also gave away two goals at the end - that is what really annoys me.
Frank de Boer, Ajax coach
|1||Víctor Valdés (GK) (C)||1||Vermeer (GK)|
|10||S. De Jong (C)|
|13||Pinto (GK)||22||Cillessen (GK)|
|2||Montoya||6||Van Der Hoorn|
|Gerardo Martino (ARG)||Frank De Boer (NED)|
|Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)|
|A||Real Sociedad||Shakhtar Donetsk|