Sport Champions League

Friday 23 March 2018

Messi stars as Barca inflict greek tragedy on visitors

Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty Images
Lionel Messi. Photo: Getty Images

Lionel Messi netted two superb goals, had a penalty saved and twice rattled the woodwork as Barcelona romped to a 5-1 comeback victory over Panathinaikos in Champions League Group D last night.

The Greek champions stunned the home side in the 20th minute when Sidney Govou fired them in front on their first foray upfield, before World Player of the Year Messi levelled with a sublime chip two minutes later.

Spain striker David Villa swept home from a corner just after the half hour and Messi scored with a low shot after exchanging passes with Xavi and Pedro and ripping through the Panathinaikos defence on the stroke of halftime.

Pedro was on hand again with just over 10 minutes remaining to poke the ball in after Messi's effort from an acute angle struck both uprights, and Daniel Alves completed the rout with a looping header in added time.

Panathinaikos goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas blocked Messi's weak penalty in the 55th minute after the Argentine had been felled by Jean-Alain Boumsong.

Tzorvas saved his team on numerous other occasions and the biggest surprise of the night was that Messi was unable to complete his hat-trick.


In Group A, jittery Inter Milan began the defence of their Champions League crown by taking the lead and then coming from behind to draw 2-2 at Twente Enschede.

Wesley Sneijder, booed by some home fans on his return to the Netherlands, put the visitors ahead after 13 minutes when he slotted home after Diego Milito's shot had been parried.

The Dutch champions soon hit back with an unstoppable Theo Janssen free kick before Milito, enduring a difficult start to the season, glanced in an own goal from a corner.

Inter reacted quickly to going behind in the downpour and the slick surface helped Samuel Eto'o fire in a superb equaliser from outside the area after 41 minutes following Goran Pandev's layoff.

Irish Independent

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