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Uefa Champions League

Lionel Messi hat-trick v PSV Eindhoven for Barcelona is record eighth in Champions League

Beautiful free kick against PSV Eindhoven at Camp Nou among Argentine’s three goals, with Ousmane Dembele also scoring in Champions League rout

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 9:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2018, 9:59pm

Barcelona fans can stop worrying. Lionel Messi is just fine – and he scored a record eighth Champions League hat-trick to prove it.

Three days after a rare poor performance in the Spanish league, Messi returned to normal service on Tuesday with three goals in a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League opener.

That took the Argentine past long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has seven Champions League hat tricks.

Ousmane Dembele also scored for Barcelona, who were already 3-0 up when they was reduced to 10 men as defender Samuel Umtiti was sent off for a second yellow card after a hard challenge in the 79th.

The group B result extended Barcelona’s unbeaten run at home to 27 matches in the Champions League. The Catalan club have won 25 games and drawn only two during that streak.

Messi had struggled in the team’s La Liga win at Real Sociedad on Saturday, a worrying sign just ahead of the important Champions League opener.

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But he put that behind him with a beautiful free kick in the 32nd minute to open the scoring at Camp Nou Stadium. He curled the ball over the PSV wall from 25 metres (27 yards) out into the top corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

“Messi makes extraordinary things look routine,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “The free kick goal came just when we needed to break the game open. It was masterful.”

Dembele added to the lead with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the 75th minute, and Messi sealed the victory with goals in the 77th and 87th minutes.

Dembele used a nifty move to get past two defenders before making a run toward the goal and striking his long-range shot into the far corner. It was the fifth goal of the campaign for Dembele, surpassing his total from last season.

Messi’s second goal came after he received a perfect pass by Ivan Rakitic inside the area and calmly sent a low shot into the far corner. He completed his first hat trick of the season after Luis Suarez set him up on a counter-attack.

PSV forward Hirving Lozano had a goal disallowed for offside in the 83rd minute, after Umtiti was sent off for a foul on Lozano while trying to stop a breakaway.

“With the score at 1-0, it was dangerous every time they attacked,” Valverde said. “But after the second goal we played better, even with 10 men.”