Skip to main content

Lionel Messi, after Ronaldo hat-trick, scores three against Ajax

September 18, 2013 -- Updated 2149 GMT (0549 HKT)
Barcelona beat Ajax 4-0 thanks in part to Lionel Messi's stunning free kick but Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund lost.
Barcelona beat Ajax 4-0 thanks in part to Lionel Messi's stunning free kick but Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund lost.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lionel Messi moves closer to matching Raul's record in the Champions League
  • Messi, a day after Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick, scores three goals as Barcelona beat Ajax
  • Chelsea suffers a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Basel after taking the lead
  • Last season's finalist, Borussia Dortmund, loses 2-1 at Rafael Benitez's Napoli

(CNN) -- Cristiano Ronaldo has attracted much of the spotlight this week, signing a new contract at Real Madrid that reportedly makes him football's best-paid player and netting a hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League.

You just knew Lionel Messi, Ronaldo's rival in La Liga, would respond.

Messi scored three goals himself to take him closer to Raul's all-time record in Europe's top club competition and Barcelona thumped Ajax 4-0 to earn maximum points at the Camp Nou.

For all of its possession in the early stages, Barcelona failed to unlock the Ajax defense until Messi won a free kick at the edge of the box.

The Argentine took the free kick and put the ball past a helpless Kenneth Vermeer in the 21st minute to start the rout against the Dutch champion.

Messi doubled the advantage with another left-footed finish after good work from midfielder Sergio Busquets in the 55th minute before completing his treble in the 75th.

With 62 Champions League goals, the four-time player of the year could match or exceed Raul's tally of 71 sometime this season.

Ajax's misery was complete when Victor Valdes saved Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's late penalty.

"It was important to start with a win, especially playing at home," Messi told Spain's Canal Plus. "We know how difficult these Champions League groups always are. In the second half we had the ball and controlled the match.

"We found it tough to pressure them initially because they were moving the ball well out from the back. But I think in general it was a great performance."

Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino will now fly back to his native Argentina to be with his family following the death of his father.

Barcelona and AC Milan are expected to advance from Group G, and Milan beat poor traveler Celtic 2-0 at the San Siro with two goals in the final seven minutes. One was an own goal by defender Emilio Izaguirre.

Milan was far from convincing, with the Scottish champion looking the more threatening throughout.

Chelsea stunned

Chelsea has endured a slow start to its league campaign under prodigal son Jose Mourinho but an away loss to Everton on Saturday paled in comparison to Wednesday's 2-1 reverse -- at home -- to Basel.

Chelsea, the tournament winner two seasons ago and knocked out in the group stage last December, labored for most of the first half but took the lead on Oscar's low shot to the far corner deep in the first half.

Instead of adding to its advantage, Chelsea remained uninspired -- barring Oscar's shot that struck the crossbar -- and paid the price when Mohamed Salah leveled in the 71st.

Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record
Messi claims fourth Ballon d'Or
Pele: Mourinho is 'good for Chelsea'

Marco Streller's near-post header 10 minutes later gave Basel the win.

Chelsea had eased past Basel 5-2 on aggregate in the Europa League in the spring.

"I'm the manager," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "I'm responsible for everything, especially in the bad moments.

"Tomorrow I will not wake up with a smile on my face but I have to wake up again.

"We have to get the points ... in the Champions League. We don't want to play in the Europa League."

Elsewhere in Group E, Schalke 04 didn't stumble at home, blanking outsider Steaua Bucharest 3-0.

Not a good start for Dortmund

Last season's runner-up to Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund endured a miserable evening in Italy, falling 2-1 to Rafael Benitez's Napoli in Group F.

Goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller was shown a red card in first-half stoppage time for handling outside the box and manager Jurgen Klopp was earlier sent to the stands for berating the fourth official.

Aaron Ramsey continued his fine form for Arsenal, meanwhile, scoring the second goal in the Gunners' 2-1 win at Marseille after the Londoners' fluent passing game failed to click in the first half.

In Group H, Atletico Madrid beat Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 to maintain its impressive home record in Europe and FC Porto edged debutant Austria Vienna 1-0.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT