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European Champions League

Barcelona 4 - Ajax 0

Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Dani Alves, Piqué (Marc Bartra 79'), Mascherano, Adriano; Cesc Fàbregas (Xavi 71'), Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Neymar (Pedro 71'). 4-3-3. Ajax: Vermeer; Van Rhijn, Moisander (Van der Hoorn 72'), Denswil, Blind (Schöne 77'); De Jong (Serero 58'), Poulsen, Duarte; Bojan, Sigthorsson, Boilesen. 4-3-3.

1-0. 22. Messi. Curled free kick round defensive wall and in off far post.
2-0. 55. Messi. Picked up Busquets pass and cut past defender to score.
3-0. 68. Piqué. Got in front of Vermeer to head Neymar cross in to net.
4-0. 75. Messi. Controlled Xavi centre and turned low shot past keeper.

A comfortable win for Barcelona in their opening game of their Champions League group on Wednesday, Messi helping himself to a hat-trick as they went on to beat Ajax 4-0. Curiously the two teams had never faced each other in official competitions despite many close ties, the latest of which being current Ajax coach Frank De Boer, who played for a long time at the Nou Camp, and on-loan striker Bojan. It was Messi who made the difference though, the Argentinian forward beating Vermeer with a well struck free kick midway through the first half. Van Rhijn and Duarte tested Valdés before the break, but Vermeer had to keep out Messi and Neymar, and soon after the restart Messi got his second of the night following a good run by Busquets. A few minutes later Piqué headed the third from Neymar's long cross, and with a quarter of an hour to go Messi completed his hat-trick, sending his marker the wrong way with the faintest of dummies before stabbing a low shot past Vermeer once again. Ajax did have their chances after that, in particular a late penalty after Mascherano bundled over Serero, but Valdés kept out Sigthorsson's spot kick, and then made further saves from Bojan and Boilesen to make sure of his clean sheet.