Champions League

Barca sweep aside APOEL

2014-11-26 00:12
Barcelona (AFP)

Nicosia - Lionel Messi became the all-time top goalscorer in the Champions League with a hat-trick and Luis Suarez registered his first goal for Barcelona in a routine 4-0 win away at APOEL Nicosia on Tuesday.

Suarez finally got on the scoresheet in his fifth appearance since a club record move from Liverpool in July with a fine turn and finish on 27 minutes.

However, he was upstaged by his Argentine teammate as Messi surpassed Real Madrid legend Raul's mark of 71 goals just days after also becoming the top scorer in the history of La Liga when he stabbed home Rafinha's mishit shot 10 minutes later.

Messi added his second of the evening just before the hour mark before both sides were reduced to 10 men as Rafinha and Joao Guilherme saw second yellow cards.

And fittingly it was Messi who had the final word as he turned home Pedro Rodriguez's low cross three minutes from time to take his tally to 74 Champions League goals in 91 games.

PSG's 3-1 victory over Ajax means that Barca need to win when they host the French champions in two weeks' time to secure top spot in Group F.

Despite having lost three of their previous four matches in the group, APOEL had shown plenty of resistence in losing by just the one goal twice against PSG and away to Barca on matchday one.

However, they were swept aside with ease by Luis Enrique's men who confirmed an upturn in their form of late after thrashing Europa League champions Sevilla 5-1 on Saturday.

Messi had a great chance to break the record inside two minutes when he shot straight at Urko Pardo in the APOEL goal.

Barca's captain for the evening then teed up Suarez with a low cross, but Pardo did well to get down to stop the Uruguayan's fierce low effort before Jordi Alba volleyed well off target from another wonderful Messi pass.

After providing four assists in his first four Barca matches, Suarez finally found the net when he turned his marker on the edge of the area before slotting past the helpless Pardo into the far corner.

Ten minutes later Messi made more history when he turned home Rafinha's effort with his right foot to eclipse Raul's mark having played 51 fewer Champions League games than the Spaniard.

Barca's domination continued after the break and resorted to provider for Pedro seven minutes after the restart, but the Spanish international pulled his effort inches wide.

Messi was more clinical when he latched onto Dani Alves's through ball to squeeze the ball past Pardo to double his tally for the evening.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen had enjoyed a blissfully quiet evening in the Barca goal, but he was suddenly called into action 24 minutes from time as he flew to his right to deny Tomas De Vincenti.

Rafinha was then first to be given his marching orders as he chopped down De Vincenti from behind before Guilherme balanced up the numbers when he clumsily brought down Pedro six minutes from the end.

And there was still time for Messi to further embellish his historic night as, knowing he was in an offside position, he intelligently let Xavi's through ball roll into Pedro's path and was then on hand to slot home his cut-back to complete his hat-trick.

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