Messi leads Barcelona to 5-1 win vs. Panathinaikos

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona rallied from an early deficit to beat Panathinaikos 5-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Barcelona: Lionel Messi scored twice
as Barcelona rallied from an early deficit to beat
Panathinaikos 5-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Three days after a surprise 2-0 Spanish league defeat to
Hercules, Barcelona responded in style at the Camp Nou Stadium
to start Group D play behind key playmaker Messi.

Sidney Govou struck for the Greek champions in the 20th
minute against the run of play but Messi sprung Barcelona back
two minutes later.

David Villa put the Spanish champions ahead for good in
the 33rd after scoring from Sergio Busquets` flick-on. Messi
notched his second in the 45th after an exquisite buildup
through the middle of the field.

Panathinaikos goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas denied the
Argentina forward a hat trick with a penalty-save in the 54th.

Pedro Rodriguez tapped in the fourth as the ball fell to
him in the 78th after Messi`s shot touched the inside of the
far post.

Messi then lobbed a perfect pass to Daniel Alves as the
Brazil defender strode through the area to head home the fifth
on the game`s last play.

"Things worked out well and it`s always nice to start the
Champions League with a victory," Pedro said. "We knew we had
to win."

Barcelona dominated the buildup to Panathinaikos` goal
but Tzorvas kept the hosts at bay by stopping Messi`s
third-minute header before forcing Xavi Hernandez to shoot
wide from close-range three minutes later.

The Greece `keeper then started Govou`s goal. Djibril
Cisse back-tapped his goal kick to Govou, who swept by fellow
France international Eric Abidal to go solo on Victor Valdes
and beat the Barcelona goalie with a shot to the left.

But Messi quickly replied by delicately tapping Xavi`s
bouncing pass out of the air past Tzorvas.

Barcelona was dominating possession and applying
unrelenting pressure on the Greek area with Villa well-placed
to ground a shot inside the near post for his first European
goal since joining the Catalan club in the summer.

Pedro headed just wide of the far post in the 35th, then
Messi shot onto the underside of the crossbar two minutes
later before scoring a spectacular second. Messi swapped
passes with Busquets and then Pedro as he burst into the area
to fire a low shot to Tzorvas` left that left him no chance.

But Messi failed to add to his tally after weakly
shooting from the spot after Cedric Kante slid into him.

Pedro was well-placed to hit in the rebound from Messi`s
cross-goal shot that beat Tzorvas but didn`t stay in.

Tzorvas denied Messi in front of more than 69,000
spectators again in the 80th before Alves capped the dominant
night. FC Copenhagen beat Rubin Kazan 1-0 in the other Group D

Bureau Report