Messi hits hat-trick as Barcelona humble Celtic 7-0
Three days after thrashing Rangers in the Old Firm derby, the Scottish champions are brought down to earth in Europe
Barcelona 7 Celtic 0
Three days after Celtic demolished Rangers 5-1 at Parkhead, they were themselves demolished by a rampant Barcelona, who ran out 7-0 winners at the Camp Nou in their Champions League encounter yesterday.
It was a record European defeat for Brendan Rodgers's team and was delivered courtesy of a hat-trick from Lionel Messi – the 40th of his career – two goals from Luis Suarez and one each from Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
Although the scoreline is undeniably bad, the identity of the scorers, who are four of the world's ten best players, does serve to soften the blow.
But it was still quite a comedown for the Bhoys.
"Very rarely can any team have experienced such a swing from being masters of their local universe – as Celtic were after their frolic in the Old Firm derby – to a side chasing shadows vainly for most of this non-contest," says Roddy Forsyth of the Daily Telegraph.
It was a "harrowing night" for Chelsea's players and a "sobering" one for Rodgers, whose efforts to keep Barca at bay with five at the back failed badly, says Michael Grant of The Times. "Barcelona sent out a team of surgeons to go to work on Celtic last night, leaving the broken Scottish champions feeling as though they'd gone through a brutal operation without anaesthetic.
"The class and excellence of Lionel Messi and his gilded supporting cast was given free rein as Barcelona ran riot and sliced open Celtic at will," he says. "They mesmerised and disorientated the Celtic defence with the variety, intelligence and precision of their runs, movement and passing." Full time, when it came, was a mercy.
Afterwards Rodgers insisted he felt "no embarrassment" and paid tribute to Barcelona. "They have done that to much better teams than us," he said.
He was also able to point out that, although the scoreline was embarrassing, his European debut as Celtic manager had not ended in an unusual fashion. "This was Celtic's 28th away game in the Champions League, of which they have now won just one and drawn one, losing 26," observes The Guardian.