Soccer

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Messi bags treble as Ajax crumble in Nou Camp

Published 19/09/2013|04:00

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Lionel Messi struck a hat-trick

Lionel Messi scored a superb Champions League hat-trick as Barcelona ran Ajax ragged in their Group H opener at the Nou Camp.

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The Argentinian striker was at his effortless best, despatching a fine first-half free-kick and then producing two clinical finishes either side of Gerard Pique's header.

Ajax were passengers in the second period and were denied even a consolation when Victor Valdes saved Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's penalty.

Messi, perhaps inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo's treble for Real Madrid on Tuesday night, now has 62 Champions League goals and a record four hat-tricks.

In Arsenal's Group F, Napoli extended their perfect start in Serie A to the Champions League with a 2-1 win over 10-man Borussia Dortmund, last season's runner-up.

Prized signing Gonzalo Higuain put Napoli ahead 29 minutes in on a rainy night at San Paolo Stadium by heading home a cross from Camilo Zuniga, after which Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp was sent off for protesting.

Higuain was also at the centre of the action when goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller was shown a red card for using his hands outside his area to deny the striker in first-half added time.

Lorenzo Insigne doubled Napoli's lead in the 67th minute with a free-kick which curled into the top corner.

Zuniga scored an own goal to give Dortmund hope in the 87th minute, but Napoli held on.

Irish Independent

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