MESSI IN­SPIRES BARCA RE­VENGE AGAINST JUVE

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE - PIC/AP/PTI

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.

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