Messi on target twice as Barca blank Juventus
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Lionel Messi finally scored against goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-0 in their first match of the Champions League group stage yesterday.
Messi grabbed his 95th and 96th goals in the Champions League, breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first half in the Group D game. After he had hit the post and played a part in Ivan Rakitic's second goal, Messi beat Buffon again to round off the commanding win.
Messi's goals were his first ever against the 39-year-old Buffon, who had kept him without a goal in three previous meetings.
The first half was dull, apart from long attempts by Juventus' Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio, until Messi struck just before the interval.
Ousmane Dembele, the most expensive signing in Barcelona's history, made his first start for the Catalan club. The
20-year-old France forward helped in Messi's goal on a counterattack that caught Juventus' defence off-guard. Messi took the ball from Dembele, worked a quick one-two with Luis Suarez, and then rolled a left-footed shot just inside the far post.
Messi helped make it 2-0 in the 56th when his dangerous low cross was cleared by substitute Stefano Sturaro back to Rakitic, who fired it home.
Messi got his double in the 69th when he took the ball on the right side and cut back to go around two defenders. He left Buffon with no chance against another left-footed strike which smacked the lower corner of his net.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique cleared a header by Medhi Benatia off the line in Juventus' best opportunity in the 81st.
Barcelona's all-time top scorer, Messi, has scored eight goals in six games across all competitions this season.
In the other Group D match, Sporting Lisbon won 3-2 at Olympiakos.
Dembele, who debuted as a substitute in a 5-0 rout of Espanyol on Saturday, showed some of the speed that Barcelona wanted when they signed him, but otherwise had a subdued match.