Neymar scores hat trick as Barca crush Celtic 6-1

Neymar scored a Champions League hat trick in a 6-1 rout of

Celtic on Wednesday to help Barcelona forget about Lionel Messi –

for one night at least.

Gerard Pique, Pedro Rodriguez, and Cristian Tello also scored

for Group H winners Barcelona, while Giorgos Samara added a late

consolation goal for Celtic, which finished last in the group.

With Messi sidelined by a hamstring injury, Neymar was finally

able to take command of a Barcelona attack which has passed through

the boots of the Argentina forward for so many years.

On Wednesday at the Camp Nou, it was Neymar’s feet which did the

talking as he finally scored in Europe’s elite competition.

”I don’t feel pressure but, still, I should score,” Neymar

said.

After Pique’s seventh-minute opener got the Spanish champions

going, Neymar used some masterful dribbling to throw off defender

Efe Ambrose with his change of rhythm before cutting a pass back

into the box for Pedro to direct home in the 40th.

The Brazil forward was able to tap home his first goal since

Nov. 10 four minutes later after Alexis Sanchez lifted a ball over

Celtic’s defense to meet Marc Montoya’s run, and the Spanish

fullback slid it back for an easy goal.

Neymar showed no problems handling Barcelona’s slick combination

capabilities as he backheeled to Xavi Hernandez who returned on to

his run through the defense, and Neymar sent a rising shot into the

corner as he slipped to the ground in the 48th.

”I wouldn’t say some players gave up but it certainly looked

that way at times,” said Celtic coach Neil Lennon.

”A lot of half-hearted performances and, as a manager, that was

the most disappointing aspect of the whole game.”

Ambrose was caught out again in the 58th. Neymar’s stepover

created space before he used his other foot to slide the ball

through the big defender’s legs, get into the box and then beat

Forster.

Neymar nearly had a fourth in the 65th as he beat the offside

trap to go in alone on Forster, only to dabble too long looking for

a shot and his run collided with Pedro, who took a shot that was

saved.

Forster could only watch as Tello, who returned from injury to

replace Sanchez, tried a shot that deflected high and into goal in

the 72nd minute.

”I hope, with this game tonight, that we’ve put to rest any

doubts about our play,” Pedro said.

Barcelona, which rested Andres Iniesta, rebounded from a 2-1

loss to Ajax to finish top of the standings with 13 points. AC

Milan also advanced after drawing 0-0 against Ajax to finish

second.

”What’s important is we’ve overcome two straight losses and

that can change things for us as we concentrate on the league,”

Neymar said after taking his season goal tally to seven.