Barcelona vs. Ajax: Champions League Live Score, Highlights, Recap
Barcelona 4-0 Ajax, UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
If debutant Neymar was the pre-match story, the game itself was all about Lionel Messi. The Argentine scored the 27th hat-trick of his career to match Cristiano Ronaldo's tally from last night and set Barcelona up for a comfortable victory.
Ajax were never really in the game and were troubled by Barcelona throughout, with Neymar a constant thorn in their side. The Brazilian handed right-back Ricardo van Rhijn a torrid evening and earned himself an assist for a delightful cross that found Pique in the area for Barcelona's third.
Victor Valdes impressed in the Barcelona goal, saving a late penalty from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson to maintain the Catalans clean sheet, after Javier Mascherano clumsily brought down substitute Thulani Serero.
But, it was Messi whose contribution ultimately made the difference, curling home a free-kick in the first-half before finishing two more attacks with his wonderful left-foot in the second. Barcelona start the Group Stage with a comfortable win and, already, the race for Champions League top-scorer 2013-14 is on.
Barcelona: Valdes; Adriano, Pique, Mascherano, Dani Alves; Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas; Neymar, Messi, Alexis Sanchez.
Ajax: Vermeer; Moisander, Van Rhijn, Denswil, Blind; Poulsen, Duarte, De Jong; Bojan, Boilesen, Sigthorsson.
Goals: Messi 22' 55' 75', Pique 69'
FULL TIME: Barcelona 4-0 Ajax
90+2' Barcelona just keeping the ball in defence, slowly counting down the seconds to victory.
90' Valdes called into action once more, this time to deny a well struck Boilesen effort from outside the area. Good save diving to his left.
88' Pedro summons a bit of Neymar-esque trickery to break down the left-flank and complete Van Rhijn's poor evening. His cross, though, is behind Messi and easily cleared.
87' Bojan almost gets his dream goal upon his Nou Camp return. Valdes, though, makes a fine save diving full-length to his right.
4 - Lionel Messi is the first player in Champions League history to score four or more hat-tricks in the competition. Peerless.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2013
84' YELLOW CARD - Denswil booked for a clear block on Pedro.
82' Barcelona happy to coast into the finish now. An enormous passage of play sees them keep the ball in defensive areas.
79' Barcelona make the final of their three changes, with Marc Bartra replacing Pique. Xavi and Pedro on for Neymar and Fabregas just ahead of the goal.
77' It's not a good night for Ajax. Sigthorsson's poor penalty is saved by Valdes low to his right.
76' PENALTY! Serero flattened by Mascherano on the right of the area.
74' GOAL Barcelona 4-0 Ajax (Messi) - Predictably, given Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick last night, Messi matches him with three of his own. Ajax stand off and give time to shoot at the edge of the area and Messi suitably punishes.
71' That would appear to be the game well and truly over. Ajax haven't been great this evening and needed to take their couple of first-half chances to really stand a chance.
Nice assist Neymar - but you'll probably incurr a club fine for whipping in that cross. Yes, a cross! At Barça— Roberticus (@Santapelota) September 18, 2013
GOAL Barcelona 3-0 Ajax (Pique) - Pique stays up after a corner and gets his reward as he heads home Neymar's cross.
68' Fabregas looks to play in Messi for a third with a lofted through-ball, but Vermeer claims. Shortly after, Alexis' looping cross reaches Neymar, whose header is blocked.
65' Adriano and Sigthorsson go crashing into an advertising board when chasing a ball running out of play. The Brazilian makes no effort to help his opponent up having pushed him into the side.
63' Dani Alves launches a counter attack down the right flank with Neymar in the middle, but the full-back gets himself in a twist and falls over as he attempts a cross.
All goals in tonight's Champions league have been scored by Argentines and Brazilians, so far.— Iain Luxford (@Luxinho77) September 18, 2013
60' A period of Ajax possession sees the tempo of the match drop considerably. Barça content for them to continue at present.
De Jong - who has not looked match fit & featured little - comes off with Thulani Serero on in his place.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) September 18, 2013
56' Almost another goal for the Argentine as Neymar's low cross from the left picks him out, but his shot flies just wide of the near post.
55' GOAL Barcelona 2-0 Ajax (Messi) - Superb counter from Barça, with Busquets picking out an unmarked Messi on the right who cuts inside and fires home.
54' Neymar again in the action, this time running at Moisander and appearing to be knocked over by the Dane in the area. Nothing given.
52' Long period of probing Barcelona possession ended by a kick on Neymar from Van Rhijn. A tough night for the Dutch youngster.
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