Lionel Messi was in record-setting form as he hit a hat-trick to help Barcelona thrash PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in Group B of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barca won on a night when Roberto Firmino came off the bench to score the late winner for Liverpool over Paris Saint-Germain by the odd goal in five at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge and James Milner were also on the scoresheet for the Reds before Les Parisiens drew level after being 2-0 down, with Thomas Meunier and Kylian Mbappe finding the net.
The Premier League's other representative, Tottenham Hotspur, had a tougher night as the north London club blew a lead late to lose against Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Meanwhile, 2016 finalists Atletico Madrid came from a goal down to win in Monaco. Borussia Dortmund were also winners after Christian Pulisic scored late to see off Club Brugge.
- Inter Milan 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Barcelona 4-0 PSV Eindhoven
- AS Monaco 1-2 Atletico Madrid
- Club Brugge 0-1 Borussia Dortmund
- Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Napoli
- Liverpool 3-2 Paris Saint-Germain
- Schalke 04 1-1 FC Porto
- Galatasaray 3-0 Lokomotiv Moscow
Group A (Matches, Wins, Goal Difference, Points)
1. Borussia Dortmund: 1, 1, +1, 3
2. Atletico Madrid: 1, 1, +1, 3
3. AS Monaco: 1, 0, -1, 0
4. Club Brugge: 1, 0, -1, 0
1. Barcelona: 1, 1, +4, 3
2. Inter Milan: 1, 1, +1, 3
3. PSV Eindhoven: 1, 0, -4, 0
4. Tottenham Hotspur: 1, 0, -1, 0
1. Liverpool: 1, 1, +1, 3
2. Red Star Belgrade: 1, 0, 0, 1
3. Napoli: 1, 0, 0, 1
4. Paris Saint-Germain: 1, 0, -1, 0
1. Galatasaray: 1, 1, +3, 3
2. Porto: 1, 0, 0, 1
3. Schalke: 1, 0, 0, 1
4. Lokomotiv Moscow: 1, 0, -3, 0
Full standings available, per the tournament's official website.
Messi got a thrilling night started by hammering a trademark free-kick into the top corner:
In the process, Messi matched a record set by an attacking talisman who thrived for Barca's great rival, per Opta Jose:
Another milestone awaited the Blaugrana's magnificent No. 10 once he wrapped up the scoring and completed his hat-trick:
Ousmane Dembele had doubled Barca's lead before Messi added his second and third goals. The Frenchman was plagued by an injury bug a season ago, but the former Dortmund ace brings a lot to this Barcelona forward line.
Dembele's pace, technique and eye for goal are assets alongside Messi, particularly with centre-forward Luis Suarez starting to slow down.
Barca's attacking reserves are something Spurs can only dream of. Even so, Tottenham appeared to be coasting in Milan after Christian Eriksen had opened the scoring eight minutes after the break.
A Spurs victory appeared inevitable until Mauro Icardi swung his boot to connect with a terrific volley five minutes from time. There was enough time for Matias Vecino to net the late winner.
Spurs can take heart from most of their performance. Yet manager Mauricio Pochettino will want more cutting edge and greater resolve when Barcelona visit Wembley Stadium on October 3.
Liverpool started without Firmino—who suffered an eye injury on Saturday against Spurs—at the heart of a dynamic front three, but Sturridge proved his worth by heading the Reds into a 30th-minute lead. The advantage was doubled by Milner from the penalty spot six minutes later.
PSG responded through Meunier five minutes before the break.
Liverpool dominated most of the second half and had a goal disallowed after Sturridge clashed with goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. However, PSG hit back when Mbappe found the net seven minutes from time.
The goal meant PSG's star teenager continues to boss this competition despite his tender years:
His latest goal was merely the cue for Firmino to be the hero with a fine solo finish in stoppage time.
Atleti were trailing after just 18 minutes when Samuel Grandsir gave Monaco the lead. Diego Costa hit back 13 minutes later before Jose Gimenez put the visitors in front during the first-half stoppage time.
Costa had been teed up by Antoine Griezmann, who was the creative fulcrum for Atletico:
It was fitting Pulisic struck Dortmund's late winner. The United States forward was making his 100th appearance for the Bundesliga club on his 20th birthday.
There was an element of fortune about the precocious attacker's decisive contribution:
Galatasaray got off to a positive start in Group D thanks to Garry Mendes Rodrigues, who breached the Lokomotiv Moscow defence after nine minutes. Eren Derdiyok added a goal, while Selcuk Inan struck a penalty to see off last season's Russian Premier League champions.
Schalke took 64 minutes to break the deadlock against Porto in Group D's other match. The goal came courtesy of the lively Breel Embolo, continuing a prolific recent run for the forward:
Otavio drew Porto level from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to go.
Napoli couldn't break down Red Star Belgrade's defence, leaving Carlo Ancelotti, who has won this tournament three times as a manager, with a tame start in Group C.
Wednesday will see Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus head to Valencia in Group H, while Young Boys host Manchester United. Meanwhile, holders Real Madrid host AS Roma in Group G, and Manchester City start in Group F by welcoming Lyon to the Etihad Stadium.