Ajax became the latest victim of Lionel Messi’s brilliance, as the Argentinian hit a hat-trick as Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners in the opening round of Champions League group H.

  • By Michael Bell
  • Follow Michael on Twitter

messi aBarcelona dominated the opening stages, but could not find a way through an organised Ajax defence, until the 22nd minute, when Lionel Messi netted with an excellent free kick.

Ajax then came back into the game, and should have been level, when Ricardo van Rhijn met a brilliant cross from Bojan with a diving header, which was just kept out by Victor Valdes.

Lerin Duarte then missed another great chance for Ajax, when the ball fell at his feet in the penalty box, his low shot was too weak, and Valdes had an easy save.

Nine minutes into the second half Barcelona doubled their lead, with Messi finishing past Vermeer after a swift counter attack.

On 69 minutes, Gerard Pique made it 3-0 to the home side, as he got in ahead of Vermeer to head in a whipped cross by Neymar, before Messi completed his hat-trick five minutes later with a simple finish when given too much time by the Ajax defence.

Two minutes later Ajax were awarded a penalty when Thulani Serero was taken down in the box by Javier Mascherano, but Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s poor spot kick was saved by Valdes.

Valdes then pulled off a great save to deny Bojan a goal on his return to the Nou camp, and then the Spaniard threw himself across goal to deny Boilesen.

Barcelona proved too much for Frank de Boer’s youthful side, but Ajax’s first half performance will have encouraged the club going forward in the competition.

In two weeks time, Ajax host AC Milan in a game that the Eredivisie champions can now not afford to lose if they want to qualify for the next round.

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