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Messi hits hat-trick as Barcelona rout Ajax

Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored a superb Champions League hat-trick as they ran Ajax ragged in their Group H opener at the Nou Camp.

The Argentinian striker was at his effortless best, despatching a fine first-half free-kick and then producing two clinical finishes either side of Gerard Pique's header.

Ajax were passengers for large parts of the 4-0 defeat and were denied even a consolation when Victor Valdes saved Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's penalty.

Messi, perhaps inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo's treble for Real Madrid on Tuesday night, now has 62 Champions League goals and a record four hat-tricks.

Barca coach Tata Martino said afterwards: "It wasn't a brilliant match but we put in a strong performance.

"Our second half was better than our first. We controlled the game better, we pressured and we defended well."

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