The Champions League group stage got underway on Tuesday and as ever there was plenty of Argentine interest. However, just as inevitable was the one man that dominated matchday one as Barcelona thrashed Celtic 7-0 in the Camp Nou.
If there was any doubt over Lionel Messi’s fitness the world’s best player put them firmly to bed with a devastating hat-trick. It took less than three minutes for the Argentina captain to smash Barcelona in front and a dazzling piece of interplay between himself and Neymar saw Messi virtually walk the ball into the net to double the lead.
The Brazilian added a third with a superb free-kick before an Andrés Iniesta volley and then Messi completed his hat-trick for number five. Luis Suárez scored twice late on to complete the rout but Luis Enrique’s decision to start the MSN trident for the first time this season proved too much for Brendan Rodger’s Celtic.
It was Messi’s sixth hat-trick in the Champions League and number 36 for Barcelona.
Earlier, Franco Cervi scored on his first Champions League start since making the move to Benfica from Rosario Central. The 22-year-old thought it has given the Portuguese club all three points but Besiktas equalised deep into stoppage time for a share of the spoils.
— Referí (@Referiuy) September 13, 2016
Ángel Di María and Javier Pastore featured in Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal but were left to rue a host of missing chances by Edinson Cavani.
Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid side began their campaign with a somewhat fortuitous win over PSV Eindhoven thanks to Saúl Ñíguez’s superbly struck volley – Nicolás Gaitán played an hour in Holland.
And in Switzerland, Matías Delgado captained Basel to a 1-1 draw with Bulgarian club Ludogorets – José Luis Palomino started for the visitors.