MESSI INSPIRES BARCA REVENGE AGAINST JUVE
BARCELONA: FC Barcelona defied an outgoing off-field crisis as another Lionel Messiinspired display exacted revenge on Juventus to open their Champions League campaign with a resounding 3-0 win.
Messi was involved in all three goals as he beat Gianluigi Buffon for the first time in his career to open the floodgates just before half-time on Tuesday night.
Ivan Rakitic added a second after Messi’s run and cross opened up the Juventus defence before the Argentine rounded off the scoring by drilling home his second of the evening 19 minutes from time.
Victory puts Barca on top of Group D alongside Sporting Lisbon, who were 3-2 winners at Olympiakos. Barca’s start to the season has been dominated by calls for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign following Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-germain and the Catalan giants’ bungled moves to replace the Brazilian. Ousmane Dembele impressed on his full debut following a 105 million-euro move from Borussia Dortmund, as Barca proved as long as they have Messi there is life after Neymar.
Juventus showed even more upheaval since the sides last met in last season’s quarterfinals with six changes from their trip to the Camp Nou just five months ago.
The Italian champions progressed comprehensively 3-0 on aggregate back then and threatened to expose Barca again early on with Marcandre ter Stegen forced into three early saves to deny Mattia de Sciglio, Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic.
Dembele was showing plenty of promise, but often tried to beat one man too many in his quest to impress as Barca struggled to create early on.
Their best effort before opening the scoring came when a Messi free-kick rebounded back into Luis Suarez’s path and his fierce effort was turned over by Buffon.
Dembele was involved in the move as Messi broke his personal duck against Buffon in the final minute of the first half.
Messi picked up the Frenchman’s pass before exchanging a one-two with Suarez and firing with unerring accuracy just inside the far post.