Barca thrash Ajax in CL opener

Lionel Messi became the first player to score four trebles in the Uefa Champions League

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions league football match against Ajax Amsterdam at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on 18 September 18, 2013. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Lionel Messi gave yet another sparkling Champions League recital when he netted a hat-trick as Barcelona began their European campaign with a crushing 4-0 home win over Ajax Amsterdam in Group H on Wednesday.

A day after Ronaldo threw down the gauntlet with a hat-trick for Real Madrid in a 6-1 thrashing of Galatasaray, Messi was not to be outshined.

He put a splendid performance that increased his Champions League goals tally to 62 in 80 appearances, nine short of former Real Madrid forward and record marksman Raul.

The Argentine World Player of the Year conjured another memorable night at the Nou Camp for his adoring fans by becoming the first player to score four trebles in Europe's elite club competition.

His breathtaking performance brought back memories of his five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2010-11 Champions League, when he became the only man to score five in one match, and the four goals he put past Arsenal in 2010.

"It was important to start with a win, especially playing at home," Messi said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus.

"We know how difficult these Champions League groups always are," he added.

"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."

In other results:

AC Milan 2- 0 Celtic

Chelsea 2-1 Basel

Arsenal 2-1 Olympique Marseille

Shalke 04 3-0 Steaua Buch't

Napoli 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Zenit St Petersburg

Austria Vienna 1-0 Porto