Lionel Messi scored a record hat-trick as Barcelona demolished Celtic 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday for the Scots’ worst-ever European defeat.
Luis Enrique makes eight changes to the Barca side that were humbled at home by Alaves over the weekend, with Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez all back and Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Andre Gomes returning from injuries.
Celtic – back in the Champions League for the first time since 2013 – famously defeated Barca 2-1 in last-gasp fashion four years ago, yet they fell behind inside just three minutes, when Messi smashed home from close range after he was slipped in behind from a corner.
It didn’t take long for Barca to have Celtic against the ropes as Kolo Toure smashed a ball rolled across Dorus de Vries’ empty net onto the woodwork, before Messi fired a shot inches wide of the target and Suarez missed the No 10’s ball towards the far post by a whisker.
However, the Scottish champions were gifted the chance of an equaliser, albeit against the run of play, when Ter Stegen took out Moussa Dembele from Scott Sinclair’s measured through ball, yet the German guessed correctly to his right to push away the striker’s spot-kick.
Celtic were taught a brutal lesson on the importance of taking chances just second later, MSN at their very best as Neymar and Messi wonderfully interchanged, before the Brazilian showed his unselfish side, teeing up the No 10 for a finish into an empty net.
The Barca juggernaut was in full flow, and Neymar slipped in Jordi Alba on the overlap, but De Vries could only parry the left-back’s cross to Andre Gomes, whose volleyed shot was blocked and then forced Toure into a goal-line clearance.
Scott Brown, so dominant in Celtic’s 5-1 Old Firm win against Rangers over the weekend, was lucky to avoid a yellow card for taking out Sergi Roberto on the counterattack, yet Barca still managed to get the ball forward and to Neymar, who feinted past his opponent and only had De Vries to beat, the goalkeeper though keeping out the Brazilian’s finish.
Celtic did end the first half with the ball in the back of Ter Stegen’s net, but it was rightly disallowed as Dembele was offside when he angled a finish past the goalkeeper, and the restart began with De Vries only being able to push Neymar’s free kick into his top-left corner for 3-0.
Messi soon got his hat-trick after he was unselfishly teed up in the box by Suarez on the counterattack. A 36th treble for the Argentine, and one that saw him topple Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League with six.
Andres Iniesta made a timely return, replacing the booked Ivan Rakitic, and he didn’t take long to make his impact keenly felt as he ran onto a cross and pinged a first-time volley past De Vries.
Suarez eventually had his turn to join Messi and Suarez on the scoresheet for an MSN full house, and he chested, turned and cracked the ball past De Vries on the volley for six to Barca, before putting another one over his former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers as he slid home with two minutes to spare.
Barcelona 7-0 Celtic
Messi 3, 27, 60, Neymar 50, Iniesta 59, Suarez 75, 88
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets (Rafinha 61), Rakitic (Iniesta 46), Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Celtic: De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko (O'Connell 68), Tierney; Roberts (Armstrong 68), Gamboa, Bitton (McGregor 76), Brown, Sinclair; Dembele
Referee: Hategan [ROM]