Messi hits hat-trick in Barcelona romp

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September 14, 2016
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) walks past his teammates Neymar (centre) and Luis Suarez after scoring his side's first goal against Celtic at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain yesterday.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP):

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Neymar excelled as a playmaker to lead Barcelona to a record-setting 7-0 win over Celtic in their Champions League opener yesterday.

Celtic failed to convert a first-half penalty and level the score at 1-1 in a miserable night for the Scottish visitors.

Neymar set up Messi to score twice in the first half hour at Camp Nou before the Brazil striker struck from a free kick just after half-time.

Messi took his career tally to 86 goals in Europe's top-tier competition , before Luis Suarez rounded off the rout with a pair of goals.

"It didn't matter who we had in front of us, I remember a beauty and precision that was of another class. Against that, rivals can do very little," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "It was a great way to make our entrance to the competition (this season)."

The 7-0 victory surpassed Barcelona's biggest win in the Champions League to date, a 7-1 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen in 2012.

Luis Enrique credited Messi's deft movement across the front of the attack, and his dips into Barcelona's midfield where he acts as a facilitator, as key to unlocking Celtic.

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