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National Post Sports

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona opened its Champions League campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

It was a different story for Jose Mourinho, though, as Chelsea made a losing start for the first time as Basel came from behind to win 2-1 in London and add to the difficulties of the “Special One” during his Stamford Bridge homecoming.

Last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund also had a bad night, losing 2-1 at Napoli with both coach Juergen Klopp and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller being sent off.
(Photo by Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Image)

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona opened its Champions League campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

It was a different story for Jose Mourinho, though, as Chelsea made a losing start for the first time as Basel came from behind to win 2-1 in London and add to the difficulties of the “Special One” during his Stamford Bridge homecoming.

Last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund also had a bad night, losing 2-1 at Napoli with both coach Juergen Klopp and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller being sent off.

(Photo by Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Image)

Pope Francis (C) receives an olive tree from Argentina’s Lionel Messi (R) and Italian Gianluigi Buffon (L) at the end of a private audience together at the Vatican on August 13, 2013. Argentina and Italy are set to play a friendly soccer match on August 14. (Photo: Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis (C) receives an olive tree from Argentina’s Lionel Messi (R) and Italian Gianluigi Buffon (L) at the end of a private audience together at the Vatican on August 13, 2013. Argentina and Italy are set to play a friendly soccer match on August 14. (Photo: Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi got a new tattoo in tribute to his son Thiago. It’s an interesting choice … (Photo: Twitter/Leo Messi Fan Club/Matias Messi)

Want a foot to add to your gold collection? A Japanese jeweller created a $5.25M golden replica of Lionel Messi’s left foot for charity.

Want a foot to add to your gold collection? A Japanese jeweller created a $5.25M golden replica of Lionel Messi’s left foot for charity.

(Source: sports.nationalpost.com)

A fan stormed the field yesterday during a friendly between Argentina and Sweden. He also gave Lionel Messi a gigantic kiss. (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

A fan stormed the field yesterday during a friendly between Argentina and Sweden. He also gave Lionel Messi a gigantic kiss. (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)


Barcelona’s relentless pace at the top of La Liga, fired by the insatiable Lionel Messi, has left their closest rivals Atletico and Real Madrid all but throwing in the towel before the midway point of the season.
Any doubts about Tito Vilanova’s abilities to take up where Pep Guardiola left off after four trophy-ladened seasons look to have been misplaced with Barca nine points clear of Atletico and 13 ahead of champions Real Madrid after only 16 games.
A 4-1 thrashing of Diego Simeone’s pretenders on Sunday, with another double from Messi, served to underline their dominance in a league where they have swept up 46 of 48 points so far.
Third-placed Real were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Espanyol at the Bernabeu.
“Barca are left without rivals,” Catalonia-based daily Sport gloated on Monday. “The league isn’t won yet… but everyone thinks it is. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s relentless pace at the top of La Liga, fired by the insatiable Lionel Messi, has left their closest rivals Atletico and Real Madrid all but throwing in the towel before the midway point of the season.

Any doubts about Tito Vilanova’s abilities to take up where Pep Guardiola left off after four trophy-ladened seasons look to have been misplaced with Barca nine points clear of Atletico and 13 ahead of champions Real Madrid after only 16 games.

A 4-1 thrashing of Diego Simeone’s pretenders on Sunday, with another double from Messi, served to underline their dominance in a league where they have swept up 46 of 48 points so far.

Third-placed Real were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Espanyol at the Bernabeu.

“Barca are left without rivals,” Catalonia-based daily Sport gloated on Monday. “The league isn’t won yet… but everyone thinks it is. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

This does not look promising: Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent knee injury as Barcelona was held to 0-0 by Benfica at Camp Nou in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Messi, who went on as a reserve in the 58th minute, collided with Benfica goalkeeper Artur in the 85th and was in obvious pain from his left knee.

Messi is only one goal short of tying Gurd Mueller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year.

Messi gets the full treatment: Argentina’s Lionel Messi is escorted by security personnel as he arrives with his team in Riyadh. Argentina will play a friendly soccer match against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (Photo: REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed)

Messi gets the full treatment: Argentina’s Lionel Messi is escorted by security personnel as he arrives with his team in Riyadh. Argentina will play a friendly soccer match against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (Photo: REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed)

Brazilian Gabriel Muniz, 11, kicks a ball in front of Barcelona’s soccer player Lionel Messi at Joan Gamper training camp. Despite being born with malformation of his feet, fourth grader Gabriel puts hours into soccer every day in his neighbourhood. Gabriel aspires to be a professional soccer player just like his idol Argentina’s Messi of Barcelona FC.  (REUTERS/Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona/ Handout)

Brazilian Gabriel Muniz, 11, kicks a ball in front of Barcelona’s soccer player Lionel Messi at Joan Gamper training camp. Despite being born with malformation of his feet, fourth grader Gabriel puts hours into soccer every day in his neighbourhood. Gabriel aspires to be a professional soccer player just like his idol Argentina’s Messi of Barcelona FC.  (REUTERS/Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona/ Handout)

This image released by Madame Tussauds in London shows sculptor Jim Kempton working on the clay sculpture of soccer star Lionel Messi, which is the first stage in the waxwork figure creation process. Once completed, the new wax figure of Messi will be portrayed in his current FC Barcelona kit and replicate his signature goal celebration pose. Photo: Madame Tussauds/The Associated Press

This image released by Madame Tussauds in London shows sculptor Jim Kempton working on the clay sculpture of soccer star Lionel Messi, which is the first stage in the waxwork figure creation process. Once completed, the new wax figure of Messi will be portrayed in his current FC Barcelona kit and replicate his signature goal celebration pose.
Photo: Madame Tussauds/The Associated Press