Barcelona put their shocking defeat to Alaves in the rear-view mirror with the hammering of Celtic. The Catalans embarrassed the Scots to the tune of 7-0. Celtic hardly featured in the game, but had they converted their penalty kick the story could’ve been different. However, three from Lionel Messi, two from Luis Suarez and one each from Neymar and Andres Iniesta handed the Scots their biggest European defeat in their long history.
Barcelona started the game in dream fashion, opening the scoring just three minutes after the opening kickoff. With a lovely pass Neymar found Messi open on the left side of the area. With the shooting angle diminishing and Pique getting more and more open in front of goal it appeared that Messi would opt for the pass, but instead the Argentine powered the ball over the outstretched left hand of goalkeeper Dorus de Vries for the early lead.
Barcelona continued to dominate their seemingly yearly Champions League opponent, but getting the all-important goal to extend their lead to two seemed difficult. Getting to the edge of the area didn’t appear to be a problem, but getting into a good scoring position was a different story with Celtic doing well to congest the space in front of goal. But Barcelona did come close to doubling the lead in the 15th minute, but Messi’s edge of the area shot went just wide of the post.
Celtic looked completely focused on defense, very rarely carrying the ball over the midfield line, but on their first real attack the Scots won a penalty kick as Marc-Andre ter Stegen tripped up Moussa Dembélé. Dembélé took responsibility of the kick himself, and with the young German trying to rattle the Frenchman, sent the ball to ter Stegen’s right – right into the path of the diving goalkeeper who stopped the try and preserved the lead.
Four minutes later, Barcelona took advantage of a masterful one-two between Messi and Neymar. Messi sent the Brazilian through with a brilliant pass and with space to take the shot, Neymar unselfishly sent the ball back to Messi. The pass was slightly behind the Argentine, but he reached out just enough to gain control of the ball and slotted it into the empty net.
Even with nothing to lose and down two goals, Celtic looked timid in attack, as they were seemingly more concerned about not losing too big than getting anything from the game. And Barcelona didn’t need a second invitation to control the ball and set up shop in Celtic’s third. Barcelona came close to adding a third in the 34th minute. Barcelona again launched a brilliant attack down the left side, this time with Andre Gomes taking the shot, but his try was blocked. From the ensuing corner kick, Ivan Rakitić looked destined to score, but the ball was cleared off the line by a Celtic defender. The very next minute Barcelona launched a lighting quick counter attack after a rare Celtic attack, but Neymar’s low shot was well saved by de Vries.
Celtic would launch their first promising attack since the one that earned them a penalty kick in the 42nd minute and the Scots appeared to halve Barcelona’s lead with Scott Sinclair finding the back of the net, but the goal was correctly disallowed for offside. Just minutes later the referee whistled for halftime.
During halftime Lucho made the first substitution of the half, sending Andres Iniesta on the pitch in place of the yellow-carded Rakitić. Just four minutes after the restart Barcelona celebrated their third goal of the night. Messi won a free kick 25-yards from goal a little bit to the left from the middle. Neymar stepped up and even though the ball didn’t get close to the post, it was both accurate and powerful enough to beat de Vries.
Celtic’s motivation was clearly dwindling and Barcelona was running circles around the Scots. The floodgates completely opened near the one-hour mark. First, in the 59th minute, with nine outfielders within 25-yards of the Celtic goal, Neymar perfectly found Iniesta in a soft spot inside the penalty area. Iniesta wasted no time and powered a first-time shot on target and out of reach of de Vries. Not even a minute later Barcelona completed the manita. Messi sent Suarez through on goal down the right side. Near the goal-line, Suarez delayed slightly, then squared a ball in front to where Neymar was already getting ready for a back-heel finish, but at the last second Messi dove in, tapping the ball in from in close, completing the hat-trick, moving the Argentine into sole possession of first place for the most hat-tricks in the Champions League – six.
But Barcelona weren’t done there. Barcelona’s tempo might have dropped, but a member of the MSN trio was still without a goal, meaning there was still something left to play for. That objective was completed in the 75th minute when Neymar picked up his third assist of the night, sending a perfect over the top ball to Suarez. With his back to the goal, Suarez controlled the ball with his chest, turned quickly and launched a powerful left-footed half-volley over the head of de Vries.
Still, that was not the final score. Both teams were seemingly waiting for the final whistle, but in the 88th minute Barcelona gave it another go – and scored again. First, Messi fired an excellent shot from the perimeter, but was denied by the Celtic goalkeeper. The ensuing corner kick was played short, and the Celtic defenders somehow forgot to cover Messi, who was expertly found by Iniesta. Messi unselfishly passed the ball to Suarez who tipped it into the back of the net for the final score of 7-0.
Barcelona will look to return to winning ways in La Liga against another newcomer, Leganes.
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