By DAN KARELL
For the second day in a row, there were goals a plenty in UEFA Champions League action.
Likely eager to not be shown up by Real Madrid rival Christiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Galatasaray on Tuesday, Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick of his own for Barcelona as they routed Ajax, 4-0, at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening.
The Argentine star scored his first on a classic free kick from 25 yards out, curling it in off the far post in the 21st minute. Messi’s second came in the 55th minute, collecting a pass from teammate Sergio Busquets, evading an Ajax defender, and finishing with aplomb. Barcelona scored a third off the head of Gerard Pique, and then in the 75th minute, Messi completed his hat-trick with a precise finish from the top of the box.
Jose Mourinho’s Champions League return to Stamford Bridge in Chelsea blue didn’t go as expected. Chelsea suffered their second defeat in as many matches, falling at home to FC Basel, 2-1, despite leading at halftime.
One of the revelations from last season, Oscar, found the back of the net with a perfectly placed strike, turning and shooting as soon as he was fed the ball from Frank Lampard. But the second half turned sour for the home side, as Mohamed Salah sent a great left-footed shot past Peter Cech, and ten minutes later, Marco Streller did what he does best, flick a header that just snuck inside the near post to give the Swiss club the lead.
Former Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez had a perfect start to his Napoli Champions League campaign. His revamped Napoli side won their first UCL match over last year’s finalists Borussia Dortmund, 2-1, at the Stadio San Paolo. Borussia finished the match down to ten men and down a coach as well, as manager Jurgen Klopp was ejected for arguing a decision.
Summer signing Gonzalo Higuain announced his presence in the 29th minute with a flicked header to give Napoli the lead. Just before the half, Borussia goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller was shown a straight red card for handling outside of the box, forcing the German club to bring on backup Mitchell Langerak.
Italy U-21 star Lorenzo Insigne made his Champions League debut in style, sending in a brilliant long-range free kick in the rain to put the Italian club up 2-0, setting off wild celebrations from the team and fans. Borussia Dortmund drew one back in the 87th minute when Camilo Zuñiga back-heeled a cross off his own post and just across the line.
Here’s a full rundown of Wednesday’s results:
Chelsea 1-2 FC Basel
FC Schalke 3-0 Steaua Bucharest
Napoli 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Marseille 1-2 Arsenal
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Zenit St. Petersburg
Austria Wien 0-1 FC Porto
Barcelona 4-0 Ajax
AC Milan 2-0 Celtic FC
What do you think of these results? Impressed with Messi’s goals? How high is Napoli’s ceiling? Surprised with Chelsea’s defeat?
Share your thoughts below.