A brilliant hat-trick from Lionel Messi secured a brilliant 4-0 victory over Apoel.
It was Barca who dominated from the off with Messi and Jordi Alba both coming close in the opening proceedings, Luis Suarez grabbed his first Barca goal before the half hour mark as Messi added a second 10 minutes later.
They continued this dominance into the second half with Messi grabbing his second in the 57th minute, both sides were reduced to 10 men with Rafinha and Joao Guilherme been given his marching orders before Messi capped off the win with his third, five minutes from the end.
Barcelona Asserted their dominance early on with Messi forcing his way into the box within the first two minutes but Urko Pardo did well to block the effort with his body. Messi continued to pull the strings playing a good one-two with Ivan Rakitic before the Argentine pulled it back to Suarez but again Pardo did well to keep hold of it. The Barcelona captain hit an excellent curling ball into the area which was met by the great run of Jordi Alba but he hit shot over the bar.
It seemed inevitable that the away side would eventually take the lead and they did in the 27th minute, Suarez collected the ball on the edge of the box before turning brilliantly to get past his marker. The Uruguayan looked to square it but decided to curl it into the bottom corner to open his account for the Catalan club.
From that point on there was no stopping the Spanish side and they doubled their lead with seven minutes of the half to go, Messi was involved once again playing it to Rafinha with defender turning to shoot when Messi managed to get a boot to it fooling the keeper and putting into the bottom corner.
They could have easily had a third four minutes later with another excellent one-two this time between Messi and Suarez with the ball being played back to the striker but his shot with the outside of his boot was wide of the post.
Barca didn’t let up in the second half after the ball which came to Pedro was agonisingly wide of the post. They continued to press the Apoel defence and eventually got their third in the 57th minute. A brilliant through ball from Dani Alves split the defence in half and found the excellent run of Messi and he smartly dinked it past the keeper and it trickled into the net.
Marc –Andre ter Stegen was called into action for the first time in the 64th minute after Apoel showed some good play and substitute Tomad De Vincenti’s produced a strong one-handed shot from the German to prevent the goal.
Barcelona were rightly reduced to ten men with 20 minutes left when Rafinha dived in leaving the referee Gianluca Rocchi no choice but to give him a second yellow, this disadvantage didn’t faze Luis Enrique’s side with Suarez coming close to his second after he received the ball from a Messi back heel but Pardo did well to save it with his foot.
With seven minutes to play the player stakes were made even once again, Pedro managed to get beyond Guilherme but defender brought him down with his studs showing and there was no doubt that he deserved a second yellow.
Two minutes later Messi wrapped up his hat-trick, Mascherano plays a good ball out wide which is left by Messi but it finds Pedro who cuts back from the by-line to the skipper and he has easy tap in.
Apoel can be positive about their performance as they defended well for spells of the game but it was never in doubt that Barcelona would have eventually shown their class, it was a master class from Barcelona with some brilliant play in particular Messi with the record amount of Champions League goals now in his collection which was the diamond in the Catalan crown.