Lionel Messi1

Barcelona’s prolific forward Lionel Messi scored three goals as the Catalan giants ran out comfortable winners against Ajax.

The Argentine international broke the deadlock with a well-taken free-kick after 20 minutes.

After the La Liga holders went into the break with a slim victory, Messi then doubled the side’s lead with a side-footed finish in the area.

Centre-back Gerard Pique got in on the act after heading home from a precise cross by Neymar to make it 3-0 to the hosts.

Messi then ended the scoring 15 minutes from time, after the 26-year old initially dummied his shot before slotting home into the bottom corner.

Ajax will rue a number of missed opportunities, as they had Barcelona on the ropes on a number of occasions. Striker Kolbeinn Sigporsson had his penalty saved by Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes. And the Spaniard was again called into action after Bojan curled in a cross which was met with a firm header by Ricardo van Rhijn, but Valdes was again equal to it.

Barcelona will be delighted to have gotten off to a perfect start without any hitches. And Neymar, who made his Champions League debut, also impressed in the early stages. Manager Gerardo Martino expressed his delight to see such a professional and effective performance from last season’s Champions League semi-finalists.

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This article was first posted on September 19, 2013