CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WRAP: Messi fires treble in Barcelona gallop, Arsenal continue hot streak, Chelsea out in the cold

Lionel Messi did not want to be left behind in the Champions League Golden Boot race so he decided to turn it on and net a hat-trick of his own after Cristiano Ronaldo lay down the gauntlet for Real M
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Lionel Messi did not want to be left behind in the Champions League Golden Boot race so he decided to turn it on and net a hat-trick of his own after Cristiano Ronaldo lay down the gauntlet for Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

The Argentine maestro produced a fine treble of goals as Barcelona kicked off their 2013/14 UEFA campaign with a breezy 4-0 triumph over Dutch champions Ajax at the Nou Camp.

In the first ever meeting in UEFA club competition between Barcelona and Ajax, Messi opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a superbly-timed free-kick that left Kenneth Vermeer at bay.

Messi made his second goal look like child’s play when he received a pass from Xavi before toying with his opponent in the area and then firing into the back of the net in the 55th minute.

Gerard Pique added a third with a glancing header from Neymar’s early rightwing cross prior to Messi wrapping up the party by scoring his 62nd Champions League in his 80th appearance with a low finish from inside the area which brought about his 24th hat-trick for Barcelona.

Victor Valdes was able to keep a clean sheet for the Catalan giants when he denied Kolbeinn Sigthorsson from the penalty spot late in the game after Javier Mascherano had brought down Thulani Serero.

Arsenal extended their winning run to six matches with their 10th successive triumph on the road by beating Marseille 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome.

After a nervy start from the Gunners, Theo Walcott had them in front when he volleyed home from just outside the six-yard box in the 65th minute before Aaron Ramsey made it six goals in six outings with a low finish from the edge of the area with six minutes remaining.

Marseille managed to hit back in injury-time when Jordan Ayew went down in a challenge with Ramsey allowing his brother Andre to rifle past Wojciech Szczesny from the spot, however, the damage has already been done.

In London, Chelsea squandered a half-time lead to be stunned by two late goals from FC Basel in their 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Oscar gave the Blues the advantage just before the break with a well-struck first-time effort across his body after receiving a clever pass from Frank Lampard.

However, the Swiss champions hit back in the 71st minute when Mohamed Salah fired home into the bottom left corner from the right side of the box before Marco Streller completed the comeback with a front post header from a corner which Petr Cech could not keep out.

The result was the first loss in 30 Champions League group stage matches at home for last season’s Europa League winners.

Elsewhere, AC Milan produced two late goals to beat Celtic 2-0 at the San Siro, Schalke scored three times in the final 25 minutes to beat Steaua Bucharest 3-0 at home, Napoli beat ten-man Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Naples, FC Porto edged Austria Vienna 1-0 and Atletico Madrid recorded a 3-1 home triumph over Zenit St Petersburg.

2013/14 UEFA Champions League scores

Group E

Schalke 04 (GER): 3 (Atsuto Uchida 67’, Kevin-Prince Boateng 78’, Julian Draxler 85’)
Steaua Bucharest (ROM): 0
Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany – 49,358

Chelsea (ENG): 1 (Oscar 45’)
FC Basel (SUI): 2 (Mohamed Salah 71’, Marco Streller 81’)
Stamford Bridge, London, England – 40,358

Group F

Marseille (FRA): 1 (Andre Ayew (p) 90+3’)
Arsenal (ENG): 2 (Theo Walcott 65’, Aaron Ramsey 84’)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France – 38,380

Napoli (ITA): 2 (Gonzalo Higuain 29’, Lorenzo Insigne 67’)
Borussia Dortmund (GER): 1 (Juan Zuniga (og) 87’, red card: Roman Weidenfeller 45’)
Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy – 55,766

Group G

Austria Vienna (AUT): 0
FC Porto (POR): 1 (Lucho Gonzalez 55’)
Ernst Happel Stadion, Vienna, Austria – 37,500

Atletico Madrid (SPN): 3 (Miranda 40’, Arda Turan 64’, Leo Baptistao 80’)
Zenit St Petersburg (RUS): 1 (Hulk 58’)
Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain – 33,855

Group H

Barcelona (SPN): 4 (Lionel Messi 22’/55’/75’, Gerard Pique 69’)
Ajax Amsterdam (NED): 0
Nou Camp, Barcelona, Spain – 79,412

AC Milan (ITA): 2 (Cristian Zapata 82’, Sulley Muntari 86’)
Celtic (SCO): 0
San Siro, Milan, Italy – 54,623

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