Sept. 18 (UPI) — Lionel Messi had a hat trick in Barcelona’s 4-0 2018 Champions League opening win against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday at Camp Nou in Barcelona.
The Argentine dynamo — nicknamed “The Flea” — was similar to the pesky insect, navigating through the opposing defense for a score in the first half and two more goals in the second frame. Ousmane Dembele had Barcelona’s other score.
Messi notched his first goal in the 31st minute. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner stepped up for a free kick on that play. He lined up just outside of the box before slicing an attempt with his left boot. The ball sailed over a wall of defenders and bent into the right side of the net, beating keeper Jeroen Zoet.
Barcelona held the 1-0 lead through halftime and the scored stayed stagnant until the 74th minute, when Dembele struck. The French forward received a pass from Philippe Coutinho, while surrounded by defenders near midfield. He spun away from two players before sprinting toward the goal. Dembele pushed the ball to his right boot, dribbling just in front of the box before ripping a 20-yard shot into the far post netting.
Messi added another score just three minutes later. Barcelona’s star striker ran into the box on that play, before receiving a short lofted pass from midfielder Ivan Rakitic. Messi hit the feed on his first touch, placing a shot just past Zoet.
Luis Suarez slid an excellent pass into Messi to help him complete his hat trick. Arthur Melo sent a pass into Suarez on the play before the Uruguayan star used the side of his foot to split several defenders and lead Messi into the box. Messi finished with a powerful shot past Zoet in the 87th minute.
Barcelona battles Tottenham Hotspur in another Group B match at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Wembley Stadium in London. PSV Eindhoven faces Inter Milan in the group stage at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, Netherlands.