MSN reunite to help whack Celtic 7-0

Celtic goalkeeper Dorus de Vries is well beaten as Lionel Messi nets his second goal to put his team 2-0 up. He completed his hat-trick - his 40th for club and country - with Barca's fifth goal.
Celtic goalkeeper Dorus de Vries is well beaten as Lionel Messi nets his second goal to put his team 2-0 up. He completed his hat-trick - his 40th for club and country - with Barca's fifth goal.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARCELONA • Luis Suarez said he had missed linking up with his insatiable strike partners Lionel Messi and Neymar, after Barcelona's "MSN" attack scored six goals in their 7-0 record rout of Celtic on Tuesday.

The Argentinian scored a record sixth European Cup hat-trick, while the Brazilian became the first player in Champions League history to provide four assists and score in a game, curling in the third goal from a free kick.

Uruguay international Suarez added the final two strikes to complete Barca's biggest European Cup win and Celtic's worst defeat in the competition.

"It's ages since the three of us were able to play together from the off - we've missed that ability to enjoy ourselves," Suarez said.

The Uruguayan and Messi started Saturday's shock 2-1 defeat by Alaves in the Spanish Primera Liga on the bench, while Neymar missed the start of the season owing to his participation in the Olympics, where he fired Brazil to a first gold medal in football.

The three South Americans lined up together against Celtic for the first time since last season's King's Cup final.

As Neymar teed Messi up to smash home the opening goal after three minutes and laid on the pass for the Argentinian's second strike later in the first half, there was no sign the feted trio had lost any of their almost telepathic understanding.

"The summer break, the Olympics and then Neymar's holidays got in the way. Today we really enjoyed being back in tandem," said Suarez.

Messi's hat-trick was his 40th professional treble in club and international football, while his sixth European Cup treble saw him move ahead of Real Madrid greats Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

Barca captain Andres Iniesta, who lashed home the side's fourth goal on the volley following another precise cross from Neymar, also paid tribute to his team's deadly trident.

"They are the three players in the world who are the best in their position and one of them is unique," he said. "Leo just keeps proving that in football terms he's unique.

"As a team we play and work to make sure the three of them are happy, that they get chances. All we can hope is that they keep scoring like that," added the Spaniard.

Brendan Rodgers admitted that Celtic have a lot to learn after the humbling on their first match back in the Champions League after a three-year absence.

"Professionally it is never nice when this happens," said the manager. "You are trying to keep the lines tight, but the ball moves like it is on an ice rink. They moved as fast as that added to a high level, big confidence and big belief.

"This is going to be a brilliant learning season for us in the Champions League. There can be no embarrassment because they do that to better teams than ourselves."

Defeat was an even more sobering experience for Celtic, coming hard on the back of thrashing fierce rivals Rangers 5-1 on Saturday.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'MSN reunite to help whack Celtic 7-0'. Print Edition | Subscribe