Lionel Messi Leads Barcelona Past Juventus with Champions League Brace

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 12: Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus is tackled by Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League group D match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Camp Nou on September 12, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win against Juventus during Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixture, courtesy of a brace from star man Lionel Messi.

Messi gave the hosts the lead late in the first half with a stunning goal, and Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the second half. Messi would strike again to put the final score on the board.

Both teams fielded debutants in their starting XI, as shared by their official Twitter accounts:

One of those debutants nearly opened the scoring early, as Mattia De Sciglio drew a fantastic save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a strong shot from distance.

Not to be outdone, veteran stopper Gianluigi Buffon made a crucial interception, with the ball seemingly destined for Ousmane Dembele and the back of the net.

The Italian goalkeeper also kept out Luis Suarez with a reflex save, drawing this reaction from Yahoo Sport UK's Andrew Gaffney:

Gonzalo Higuain put Ter Stegen to work, while on the other side of the pitch, a blunder from De Sciglio gave Dembele a good look on goal, with the Frenchman firing wide.

The full-back suffered an injury shortly after, and manager Massimiliano Allegri made the shock decision to replace him with Stefano Sturaro. ItalianFootballTV did not understand:

There was late drama in the half, as Messi finally managed to score against Buffon. The Argentinian went on a surging run before playing a quick one-two with Suarez and finishing with a clever shot.

Former England international Gary Lineker was impressed:

Paulo Dybala nearly tied things up early in the second half after great work from Alex Sandro, but his shot flew wide of the goal. 

On the other side of the pitch, Messi struck the post with a good drive, and he was unlucky the ball bounced off Buffon and away from danger. 

Messi was booked shortly after, to the delight of Yahoo Sport's Leander Alphabet:

But just minutes later, Rakitic doubled the lead after a great pass from Messi, all but ending the contest.

Allegri responded by introducing Federico Bernardeschi, but the chances kept falling to Barcelona, and Buffon had to be alert to deny Messi a second goal. Suarez also went close and perhaps should have done better with a volley.

The goal eventually came, courtesy of Messi yet again. The Juventus defence didn't make it hard on the 30-year-old, but it was a lovely finish nonetheless.

Karl Matchett noted his excellent form:

Bernardeschi put Ter Stegen to work and Suarez had the ball in the net close to the final whistle, only to have the goal called back for offside.

Dybala had a shot saved and Gerard Pique appeared to block a shot off the line with his hand, but a late penalty would hardly have made a difference. Bernardeschi went close once more, and Fabrizio Caligara got a late debut for the Bianconeri, who appeared relieved when the final whistle blew.