Messi, Ozil hat tricks lead Barcelona, Arsenal to key Champions League wins
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By Jonathan Wilson/Sports Illustrated via Planet Futbol
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid joined Leicester City as the only three sides to have won three out of three in the Champions League group stage this season, while the second half of Matchday Three on Wednesday also brought impressive wins for Group A foes Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.
At Camp Nou, Lionel Messi spoiled Pep Guardiola's return by scoring a hat trick, as Barcelona won 4-0 against a Manchester City side reduced to 10 men early in the second half by the dismissal of Claudio Bravo. Jeremy Mathieu was also sent off with 17 minutes remaining, but the damage had been inflicted by then. Neymar missed a penalty but then followed up with the fourth to cap the one-sided clash of powers.
Borussia Monchengladbach moved a point behind City with a 2-0 win away to Celtic. Both goals, the first from Lars Stindl and the second from Andre Hahn, followed errors from Kolo Toure.
Atletico Madrid became the first away side in 27 games to win away at Rostov, with Yannick Carrasco-Ferreira finally breaking the deadlock after 62 minutes, firing in at the back post for the only goal in a 1-0 triumph.
Bayern Munich remains three points behind Atletico after a 4-1 win over PSV Eindhoven. Thomas Muller put Bayern ahead from a quickly taken corner after 13 minutes, and Joshua Kimmich nodded in from close range eight minutes later. Bayern wilted some, though, and Gaston Pereiro had a strike wrongly ruled out for offside before Lucaino Narsingh pulled one back on the counter four minutes before halftime. Robert Lewandowski restored the two-goal margin 14 minutes into the second half, nodding in the rebound to end his five-game goal drought after Arjen Robben’s chance had been saved, and Robben wrapped up the scoring with a neat header after a flowing move.
Elsewhere, Mesut Ozil struck for a hat trick as Arsenal beat Ludogorets 6-0. Arsene Wenger’s side is level atop Group A with Paris Saint-Germain, who overcame a brief scare to beat Basel 3-0. Angel Di Maria lashed in five minutes before the break as Blaise Matuidi’s cross was deflected to him. The midfielder was involved in the build-up to the second as well, which was eventually turned in by Lucas Moura. Edinson Cavani got the third from the penalty spot.
Napoli dropped its first points, going down 3-2 to Besiktas in a remarkable game at the San Paulo. It still leads the group with six points, with Besiktas a point behind and Benfica a point further back after a 2-0 win away to Dynamo Kyiv. An early Eduardo Salvio penalty gave Benfica the lead and Franco Cervi added the second after halftime.
Here's what caught the eye on another action-packed day in the Champions League:
Player of the day: Andre Hahn, Borussia Monchengladbach
Yes, Messi was masterful vs. Manchester City, but Borussia Monchengladbach desperately needed a win at Parkhead to get its Champions League campaign back on track and that it got it was down not only to Kolo Toure’s errors but also to a tireless display form the centre-forward Andre Hahn, who set up the first, scored the second and generally harried the Celtic defence to distraction.
It’s true that Ludogorets were caught out rather too easily by Alex Oxlade-Chaberlain’s through-ball, but there was still a lot of Alexis Sanchez to do. He turned sharply by Cosmin Moti and then, having create time for himself, measured a perfect chip over Vladislav Stoyanov, who wasn’t that far off his line.
Pep Guardiola’s return to the Camp Nou could hardly have gone worse, as his Manchester City side was beaten 4-0, undermined by a combination of bad luck and individual errors. With Sergo Aguero on the bench and Kevin De Bruyne playing as a false nine, City began well but 16 minutes in, a slip from Fernandinho presented Lionel Messi with a chance that he took with typically cool efficiency.
Claudio Bravo was sent off 10 minutes into the second half, handling a Luis Suarez shot outside his box having presented the forward with possession with a weak pass. Messi added a second soon after, following another cheap concession of possession. A misplaced backpass from Ilkay Gundogan allowed Suarez to tee up Messi to complete his hat-trick. Jeremy Mathieu was sent off for a second yellow card but the Barca waves kept coming. Neymar had a penalty saved by Willy Caballero after a reckless challenge by Aleksander Kolarov on Messi but then added a fourth after cutting in from the left flank and deceiving John Stones.
Arsenal runs rampant over Ludogorets
There were times in the first half when Arsenal was grateful for David Ospina, but by the end, those moments of awkwardness had been blown away by a string of goals of remarkable quality. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead with a brilliant chip after 12 minutes and Theo Walcott thumped in a second before halftime. Within 40 seconds of the start of the second half Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had added a third.
A rapid counter-attack led to a fourth for Mesut Ozil, and the German then converted a Lucas Perez cross to make it five. The same pair combined for the sixth.
Napoli was almost as much the architect of its own downfall as City as it lost 3-2 at home to Besiktas. Adriano got ahead of Jose Callejon to put Besiktas in front after 13 minutes. Dries Mertens turned in a Callejon cross to level on the half-hour mark, but eight minutes later, Jorginho’s poor back pass allowed Vincent Aboubakar to restore the Besiktas lead.
Lorenzo Insigne had a penalty saved by Spanish goalkeeper Fabricio early in the second half, but Napoli was awarded another penalty after 69 minutes, which was converted by Manolo Gabbiadini. Gabbiadini then had an overhead kick rightly ruled out for offside, but, with four minutes remaining and Napoli on top, Aboubakar capitalized on more slack defending to nod in a Ricardo Quaresma free kick.
With that, Napoli missed out on all but punching its ticket to the knockout stage and has more work to be done in Group B.