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FC Barcelona have got their Champions League off to a thundering start with a 5-1 rout of the Czech visitors to Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
And three of those goals were the work of Robert Lewandowski, who has now scored 89 goals in the competition, the first three of those for Barça amounting to his sixth UCL hat-trick.
His name was chanted several times by the home fans this evening. And rightly so. What an awesome addition to the team he is. And it wasn't just the goals. That back-heel to Pedri that so very nearly ended in a goal... Wow!
Neither was it just about Leva. This was another sublimely brilliant performance from the Catalans, who in every position are looking so fresh, so structured and so clear about their idea of what they need to do to win and to do it by playing well.
Exactly what Culers want.
Kessie’s first goal
The home side were quick to take control of the game. After 13 minutes of near-constant pressure, Jules Kounde nodded a corner through to Franck Kessie, and the Ivorian headed in his first goal for the club.
Shortly after the half hour mark, the Catalans were two in front. Sergi Roberto did the running and Lewandowski did what he does best. His finish was so cool and composed that he made a brilliant goal look routine.
And on the stroke of half-time, some fabulous work by Ousmane Dembélé to win back a lost ball on the right ended with the Frenchman floating a tremendous cross over to the unmarked Lewandowski at the far post. The Pole headed in his second goal of the night and Barça’s third.
All that said, the story could have been very different had a bizarre play not turned out in Barça’s favour. At first sight, it looked like Andreas Christiansen had indeed pulled down Jhon Mosquera, but VAR revealed that the initial foul was actually committed by the Colombian, and it was his name that ended up in the referee’s book.
The Czechs did manage to pull one back when Jan Sykora capitalised on some suspect defending.
But that mishap aside, Barça were in total charge of the proceedings and although the intensity went out of the game in the second half, they were still able to make a comfortable lead more comfortable still.
Lewandowski completed his hat-trick with another remarkably confident piece of finishing. Again, there was nothing spectacular about it. It was simply a masterclass in knowing how to shrug the pressure and tidily tuck the ball where it needs to be.
And then substitute Ferran Torres was straight onto Dembélé’s second assist of the night to volley in number five.
With Pablo Torre, signed from Racing Santander in the summer, on to make his first team debut, the only question being asked now was whether Barça could add any more.
They didn’t, but a five-goal start to a Champions League was already more than enough to send the fans home happy.
Inter 0-2 Bayer
Next up are tricky away trips to Bayern Munich and then Inter Milan. First on the menu are the Germans, who also got off to a winning start with goals from Sadio Mane and Danilo D`Ambrosio (own goal) earning them a 2-0 win in Italy.
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