BARCELONA – A mesmeric Lionel Messi scored twice and inspired Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Juventus as the Catalans got off to a flying start in Champions League Group D on Tuesday avenging last season’s quarter-final elimination by the Italian champions.
Messi broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime by playing a slick one-two off Luis Suarez and arrowing the ball beyond Gianluigi Buffon, finally getting the better of the veteran Italian in his fourth game against him.
The Argentine was also the catalyst for the second goal, forcing Juve to scramble the ball off the line, and allowing Ivan Rakitic to shoot into an empty net in the 56th minute and add to his strike against Juve in the 2015 Champions League final.
But Messi was from done. For his second and Barca’s third, he received a pass from Andres Iniesta and ripped more holes in a depleted Juventus defence before lashing beyond a dejected Buffon, scoring his seventh goal in three games.
Juventus, who were missing five key players including defensive warrior Giorgio Chiellini, looked a shadow of the team that beat Barca 3-0 on aggregate last season and reached the Champions League final, and have conceded seven goals in their last two games in the competition over two seasons.