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UEFA Champions League
September 18, 2013
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: S. Moen
• Attendance: 79412
L. Messi 22', 55', 75'
That is it from me, Tom Webber. It has been an absolute pleasure to guide you through that game. Enjoy the remainder of your evening.
FULL TIME: Barcelona 4-0 Ajax - Lionel Messi closes in on Raul's 71-goal Champions League record with a hat-trick against the Dutch giants, with Gerard Pique adding the other goal. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson missed the chance to pull one back for the visitors as his penalty was saved by Valdes, so in the end it is comfortable win for the hosts.
90' + 3'
The final whistle goes!
90' + 1'
STUNNING STOP!! Boilesen strikes an effort from distance with exquisite technique. It looks destined to arrow into the top corner but Valdes leaps to his left and gets a hand to it to divert it around the post.
Three minutes of additional time to be played.
It looks as though Barcelona will be going to the top of Group H tonight, as in the other match tonight, Milan lead Celtic 2-0.
WHAT A SAVE!! After an exquisite give-and-go, Bojan has time to pick out his spot inside the box. He thumps a shot at goal but Valdes gets a hand to it to turn it over the top for a corner.
Messi strikes it... but he puts it straight into the wall. Barcelona get a corner from the deflection, though, and Bartra sees a header drop just wide of the target from it.
Yellow Card Stefano Denswil
Denswil puts in a clumsy challenge 25 yards from goal and gives Barca a free kick in an almost identical position to that which Messi scored from in the first half.
As a note, that was Messi's 24th hat-trick for Barcelona. That third goal tonight took his Champions League goal tally up to 62. Only Raul, with 71, has more.
Almost a brilliant pass! The vision of Xavi is unbelievable there as he sprays a fantastic diagonal ball over the top for the run of Dani Alves. The crowd breathe in in anticipation of such a moment but the Brazilian is unable to bring it under control.
Valdes has not had an awful lot to do this half but he shows just how good of a keeper he is. He got down to the spot-kick brilliantly and does not look like getting beaten tonight.
Penalty save Víctor Valdés
SAVED!! Sigthorsson puts it to the keeper's right but Valdes guesses the right way and gets a strong hand to the ball. He shows great agility to get back up and help send the follow-up behind for a corner.
Missed Penalty Kolbeinn Sigthórsson
Goal Lionel Messi
GOOOOAAL!! Barca catch the Ajax defence off guard and Messi takes full advantage, feigning to shoot and committing Vermeer before slotting the ball down into the same corner as Vermeer attempts to correct himself.
PENALTY AJAX!! Mascherano fells Serero with an appalling challenge.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOUR!! Iniesta spots Sanchez's run into the area from out on the right and slips him an inch-perfect pass. The Chilean pokes a shot past the onrushing keeper but is dismayed as he sees it dribble outside the post.
Mike van der Hoorn
That was a brilliant cross from Neymar and it caused utter mayhem in the Ajax defence. It proves to be his last positive contribution as he is replaced by Pedro for the closing stages.
GOOOALLL! From the resultant corner Barcelona take it short, offering Neymar a favourable angle to send an in-swinging cross into the area. Vermeer comes out to claim it but he is beaten to the ball by Pique who diverts it into the back of the net.
IMPORTANT BLOCK!! Alexis clips the ball to the back post from the right and Neymar rises to meet it at the near post but a red-and-white shirt gets in the way of it on the line.
Sigthorsson tries to bundle his way into the area but he is unable to find a way past Mascherano. Ajax are looking particularly shoot of ideas in the final third this half.
Strong defending from Denswil. Dani Alves prepares to pull the trigger inside the area but the centre-back comes across and gets his body in the way of the effort. With the help of Vermeer, they manage to nullify the Brazilian.
Ajax were drawn with Barca’s arch-rivals, Real Madrid, in the group stage of the previous three editions of this competition. The Amsterdam club failed to pick up a single point in six meetings with los Blancos.
Messi looks to turn provider with an angled ball over the top from deep, searching out Iniesta. The midfielder runs through but ends up ahead of the ball and Moisander is able to get rid of it.
Siem de Jong
Dani Alves plays a great through-ball into the area and Sanchez latches onto it. Vermeer comes out of his goal and the Chilean is forced wide. Unable to squeeze a shot at the target, he turns back and plays the ball out to rebuild.
Messi almost gets his hat-trick! Neymar threads a fantastic pass into the Argentine from just inside the left side of the area. Messi flicks his foot at the ball but is unable to divert it inside the near post.
Goal Lionel Messi
GOOOOAAALLL! Messi gets his second of the night! Barcelona counter and Busquets carries the ball forward, biding his time before slipping a pass out to the Argentine supertstar to his right. Messi cuts back inside of Denswil before guiding a left-footed shot past Vermeer.
The Barcelona fans want a penalty as Neymar races into the left side of the area. He tries to go past Moisander but the Finland international blocks him off and the ball runs into the arms of Vermeer.
Frank de Boer was playing for Ajax when the Dutch side last won in Spain. His brother, Ronald, scored in a 3-2 extra-time victory over Atletico Madrid in the 1996-97 Champions League quarter-finals.
Vital interception! Dan Alves presses forward down the right and plays a great ball into the area, tantalisingly between the defence and their keeper. Neymar is lurking at the back post to tuck it home but Van Rhijn gets in front of him to hook the ball to sagety.
It does not take long for Barca to move the ball out to Neymar on the right and he easily cuts inside of Van Rhijn. Fortunately for the right-back, though, Poulsen comes across and makes an important tackle on the Brazilian.
Welcome back! The second half is under way.
HALF TIME - Barcelona 1-0 Ajax - A brilliant free kick from Lionel Messi is the difference between the two sides at the break, but Ajax have given a good account of themselves in the first 45 minutes. They have had their fair share of possession so Barca will need to give Vermeer a few more things to worry about after the break. Join me in 15 minutes for the second half.
45' + 1'
The half-time whistle goes!
Almost another magnificent strike from Messi! He picks up the ball and glides all the way to the top of the box, but ends up sending a very tame shot at Vermeer's goal.
Iniesta does excellently to beat Poulsen inside the area and stand the ball up at the back post for Neymar. The Brazilian controls it with his chest but fires his shot over the top.
The visitors play the ball out from the back in a very assured manner. Moisander picks it up in the middle and tries to spread it out for Sigthorsson but he overhits his pass and it goes out of play.
To their credit Ajax have had a decent amount of possession in this first half, with the figure currently at 43 per cent. The main difference between the two sides perhaps being that the visitors have been less effective at turning that into opportunities to work the keeper.
That could have been a penalty! Sigthorsson shifts the ball well and spins Pique, and the centre-back's late challenge sees him go to ground. The loose possession rolls along the edge of the box and Duarte meets it, but his shot at goal is straight at Valdes who holds onto it.
That is a poor pass from Sanchez! After Duarte's pass to Bojan is intercepted by Pique, Barca counter. The Chilean has plenty of time and tries to play a diagonal ball for Messi but he puts far too much on it and it runs out for a goal kick.
Bojan again receives the ball wide on the left and looks to beat Mascherano for pace. The Argentine manages to stay with him and then times his tackle to perfection to stop his former team-mate in his tracks.
GOOD HANDS!! Neymar picks up the ball on the edge of the final third and closes in on goal. He opens his body up and tries to bend a right-footed effort into the bottom corner but he puts it too close to Vermeer, who again makes the save.
GREAT SAVE!! Bojan, again coming in from the left, curls a fantastic pass in-swinging cross to the back post. Van Rhijn gets up in support and stoops to force a save from Valdes with a header. The keeper positions himself well and gets fown to make the stop. A lapse in concentration from Martino's men there.
The Amsterdam side finally manage to push their hosts back into their own half and Boilesen holds the ball down by the corner flag before laying it off to Bojan. He skips inside and tries to squeeze a shot inside Valdes near post but he misses the target.
STAT: Ajax have lost all of their previous eight fixtures against Spanish opposition. Their last success was a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo in the 2003-04 Champions League group stage.
Some lovely interplay in midfield, this time from Ajax, looks to set them away on a counterattack. Sigthorsson attempts to drill a pass out to Bojan but possession is intercepted.
Yellow Card Niklas Moisander
Barca are enjoying so much possession here and Ajax are really struggling to get the ball out of their own half. Moisander shows his frustration as he goes through the back of Iniesta and it costs him a yellow card.
Goal Lionel Messi
GOOOOOAALL!! STUNNING!! Messi curls the free kick around the wall and finds the net via the inside of the post. He hit it on the side that Vermeer was standing, but the sheer pace on the ball took it past him. Barcelona lead.
Barcelona win a free kick just outside the area, in a central position, as Duarte fells Messi. The Argentine looks like he fancies this one. Will we get a moment of magic?
Van Rhijn is going to be a in for a torrid night unless he gets tighter to Neymar. He is being beaten by the former Santos man every single time he gets on the ball and looks completely vulnerable.
Neymar should shoot! Once more the Brazilian glides into the area, beating Van Rhijn with consumate ease. He has an opportunity to pull the trigger and instead rolls it to Fabregas. Barcelona work play back in to Iniesta, who cuts the ball back over the keeper from the byeline but Denswil clears it behind.
Ajax coach, Frank De Boer, won the Spanish league title as a Barcelona player in 1999. He stayed with the Catalan giants until 2003, and also played alongside his twin brother, Ronald.
Mascherano's passing has been pretty disappointing so far tonight. For the second time already he has just hit the ball out of play when looking for a team-mate out on the left. He cannot continue to waste possession like that.
Bojan and Sigthorsson combine nicely down the right flank but Mascherano comes across and makes a great challenge which sends the ball out of play for a throw in.
Ajax are walking a very thin line there: passing the ball around at the back despite intense pressure from the hosts. Messi closes in on Vermeer but the keeper manages to move possession on before he is challenged.
A chance for Barca as Neymar forces his way to the byeline and cuts the ball back. Its intended target slips but Fabregas is on hand to get an effort away, but his short curls high and wide of the target.
Bojan starts in attack for Ajax tonight, despite being on loan to the club from Barcelona. He made it clear in the build-up to the game that he is aiming for a win tonight.
Good effort! Neymar moves inside of Van Rhijn far too easily and he sends a right-footed effort at Vermeer's goal from the edge of the box. He is looking for the far corner but he places it too close to the keeper, who holds the ball.
Iniesta does brilliantly to spin his marker and dances his way into the penalty area but he tries to do a bit too much before releasing it. There did not seem to be an awful lot of movement in the area, though.
Dangerous from Mascherano! He almost sells Valdes short with his first pass but fortunately for the Argentine, the keeper manages to beat Sigthorsson to the ball and clear the danger.
We are under way in Barcelona!
This is what it is all about. The Champions League anthem ringing around Camp Nou. Magnificent.
The two teams are making their way out onto the pitch now. Both wides wearing their famous home shirts.
You have to go back as far as 1983 for Barca's last win over Dutch opposition in European competition on their own turf, when they defeated NEC Nijmegen 2-0 in the Uefa Cup Winners' Cup. It is not as bad as it sounds, though, as since then they have had just two meetings with PSV in 1996 and 1997 which both ended in 2-2 draws. They have never been defeated at home by a side from Netherlands.
Gerardo Martino makes his Champions League debut as a coach this evening. The Argentine recently received news of the death of his father but delayed travelling back to his native country until after tonight's match. All credit to him for that.
Ajax bench: Cillessen, Van der Hoorn, Schone, Serero, Fischer, Sana, Hoesen.
Ajax (4-3-3): Vermeer; Van Rhijn, Denswil, Moisander, Blind; De Jong, Poulsen, Duarte; Bojan, Sigthorsson, Boilesen.
Barcelona bench: Pinto, Montoya, Bartra, Xavi, Song, Pedro, Tello.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta; Sanchez, Messi, Neymar.
Messi and Neymar both start for the hosts this evening, with the latter making his Champions League debut. Siem de Jong also starts for Ajax tonight having recovered from a collapsed lung. Full line-ups coming now!
Hello and welcome to tonight's LIVE text commentary on the Champions League Group H clash between two historical giants of the European game, Barcelona and Ajax. The magnificent Camp Nou is the setting tonight for the first ever meeting between these two sides. My name is Tom Webber and I will be guiding you through all the action tonight.
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