Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Messi scores record 8th Champions League hat-trick

Published:Wednesday | September 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal for his team during the Group B Champions League against PSV Eindhoven at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain yesterday.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP):

Barcelona fans can stop worrying. Lionel Messi is just fine - and he scored a record eighth Champions League hat-trick to prove it.

Three days after a rare poor performance in the Spanish league, Messi returned to normal service yesterday with three goals in a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League opener. That took the Argentine past longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has seven Champions League hat-tricks.

Ousmane Dembele also scored for Barcelona, who were already 3-0 up when they were reduced to 10 men as defender Samuel Umtiti was sent off with a second yellow card for a hard foul in the 79th.

The Group B result extended Barcelona's unbeaten run at home to 27 matches in the Champions League. The Catalan club has won 25 games and drawn only two during the streak.

Messi had struggled in the team's league win at Real Sociedad on Saturday, a worrying sign just ahead of the team's important Champions League opener.

But he put that behind him with a beautiful free kick in the 32nd minute to open the scoring at Camp Nou Stadium. He curled the ball over the PSV wall from 25 metres out into the top corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

"Messi makes extraordinary things look routine," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "The free kick goal came just when we needed to break the game open. It was masterful."

Dembele added to the lead with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the 75th, and Messi sealed the victory with goals in the 77th and 87th minutes.

Dembele used a nifty move to get past two defenders before making a run toward the goal and striking his long-range shot into the far corner. It was the fifth goal of the campaign for Dembele, surpassing his total from last season.

Messi's second goal came after he received a perfect pass by Ivan Rakitic inside the area and calmly sent a low shot into the far corner. He completed his first hat-trick of the season after Luis Su·rez set him up on a counterattack.

Other results: Inter 2 Tottenham 1; Club Brugge 0 Dortmund 1; FK Crvena 0 Napoli 0; Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0; Monaco 1 AlÈtico Madrid 2; Schalke 1 Porto 1.