Monday 22 October, 2018

Messi hat trick gives Barcelona opening Champions League win

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal for his team during the group B Champions League football match against  PSV Eindhoven at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal for his team during the group B Champions League football match against PSV Eindhoven at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick to help Barcelona open their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.

Ousmane Dembele also scored for Barcelona, which were already 3-0 up when they were reduced to 10 men as defender Samuel Umtiti was sent off with a second yellow card for a hard foul in the 79th.

The Group B result extended Barcelona's unbeaten run at home to 27 matches in UEFA competitions. The Catalan club has won 25 games and drawn only two during the streak.

Succeeding in the Champions League is one of Barcelona's main goals this season after struggling in the European competition in recent years. The Catalan club won the European title in 2015 but was eliminated in the quarterfinals the last three seasons in a row. Last year they relinquished a three-goal advantage from the first leg against Roma.

PSV, back in the Champions League after a one-year absence, are winless in seven matches at the group stage of the European competition.

Messi's first goal came with a beautiful free kick in the 32nd minute at Camp Nou Stadium. He curled the ball over the PSV wall from 25 metres (yards) out into the top corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

Dembele added to the lead with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the 75th, and Messi sealed the victory with goals in the 77th and 87th minutes.

Dembele used a nifty move to get past two defenders before making a run toward the goal and striking his long-range shot into the far corner. It was the fifth goal of the campaign for Dembele, surpassing his total from last season.

Messi's second goal came after he received a perfect pass by Ivan Rakitic inside the area and calmly sent a low shot into the far corner. He completed his first hat trick of the season after Luis Suarez set him up on a counterattack.

PSV forward Hirving Lozano had a goal disallowed for offside in the 83rd, after Umtiti was sent off after a foul on Lozano while trying to stop a breakaway.

Barcelona, which lead the Spanish league with four wins from four matches, dominated possession and were in control throughout the match, with PSV threatening only a few times on counterattacks. The Dutch club gained some momentum halfway through second half but wasn't able to capitalize on its brief dominance.

The game was one of two early kickoffs, a change meant to maximize television audiences. Another six games started simultaneously at 1900 GMT, 15 minutes later than in previous seasons.

PSV are coached by Mark van Bommel, which won the Champions League as a player with Barcelona in 2006. PSV are in the group stage for the 16th time but the Dutch club's only success in the continental competition came before the inception of the Champions League when it lifted the European Cup in 1988.