Lionel Messi of Barcelona notched a hat trick–including an inch-perfect free kick–and Ousmane Dembele scored a stunner of his own in a 4-0 rout of Dutch champion PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League group opener on Tuesday.


For just a few weeks back into the domestic season and after one night of action in the new Champions League campaign, and Messi is back to his true best, showing spectacular form for FC Barcelona on Tuesday night.

Against PSV Eindhoven, Messi inspired Barca to a 4-0 victory with a sensational hat-trick, highlighted by a superb 25-yard free kick to open the scoring. We shouldn’t be surprised.

At the World Cup, Messi wasn’t just poor by the standards of one of the world’s true elite players, he was just another player, and at times, a liability. He appeared tortured at times and disinterested at others, with his shoulders slumped, face pained, unable to get anything going. Argentina was fortunate to progress to the round of 16, and was swiftly dispatched by eventual champion France once there.

Messi is a true soccer gem, one of the best ever seen, and with Cristiano Ronaldo gone to Juventus, the undisputed king of Spanish club soccer.

PSV coach Marc van Bommel said before the game that he didn’t want his players fighting over who got to swap shirts with Messi. He was only half joking.

 PSV had the first dangerous moment of the match, when an awful clearance fell to Gaston Pereiro just inside the Barcelona box. The Uruguayan midfielder spoiled the chance, though, blasting it over Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal and letting the hosts off easy.

perhaps took that as a wake-up call and pushed for the opener on the other end. It nearly came through Philippe Coutinho, who had to contort himself to get a head on Suarez’s cross from the right, only to put his chance wide of the mark in the 11th minute.

Messi opened the scoring at the half-hour mark in sensational fashion. Gifted a free kick some 25 yards out and straightaway, Messi curled a left-footed chance by a helpless, diving Zoet, giving Barcelona a 1-0 edge.

Barcelona pushed for a second, and it nearly came through Coutinho in the 58th minute, when the Brazilian tested Zoet with a trademark right-footed curler, only to have the goalkeeper make a leaping save to keep it out.

It was Suarez’s turn to nearly add to the lead 10 minutes later, when he tried to chip Zoet from 18 yards out. He beat the keeper, but he put his chance off the crossbar, coming inches from getting on the board.

Barcelona got its insurance strike in the 75th minute, and it came in sensational fashion. Dembele bent a right-footed strike from long range by a diving Zoet, tucking it inside the far post to make it 2-0.

That lead became 3-0 moments later. Ivan Rakitic’s lofted ball forward found Messi in the box, and his first-time, left-footed chance was hit perfectly to extend the advantage.

The man disadvantage didn’t matter. Suarez set up Messi in the 87th minute for the strike that completed his hat trick and finished off PSV for the day.