Robert Lewandowski scored his sixth Champions League hat-trick in Barcelona’s victory over Victoria Plzen
Barcelona (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski scored his first Champions League game for Barcelona with a hat-trick as Xavi Hernandez’s side beat Viktoria Plzen 5-1 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. Plzen avoided further damage but faced a daunting task in his remaining five group matches, with a home match against Inter.
Barcelona, who failed to get past the group stage last season, saw Frank Kessie and Ferran Torres score in a superb display.
Lewandowski has now scored eight goals in just five games for his new team in all competitions.“I knew from the start that it would be important to adapt right from the first match,”
“Today is my wife’s birthday so the goals and her birthday were for her. The fact that she was on the field on her birthday means a lot. Something wonderful to me.”
There will be more rigorous tests coming for the five-time European champions with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan also in Group C.
The Catalan giants will visit the Allianz Arena next Tuesday in a real test of their progress in the past 12 months, after Bayern’s first 2-0 win at the San Siro.
Barcelona took the lead in the 13th minute, as Casey nodded the ball after Jules Conde headed a corner kick for Ousmane Dembele across the goal.
It was the Ivorian midfielder’s first goal for the club since signing from Milan at the end of the season.
Ansu Fati nearly doubled the lead midway through the first half, but was saved by visiting goalkeeper Jendrich Stanek.
Plzen was awarded a penalty in the 25th minute when Andreas Christensen brought down John Mosquera, but the referee changed his mind after reviewing the VAR and instead awarded Barcelona a free kick.
Lewandowski moved ahead of Karim Benzema to the third place in the list of all-time Champions League scorers with his 87th place in the competition, the first for his new club.
The 34-year-old fired a low shot into the bottom corner from inside the area in the 34th minute.
The Czechs gave themselves a lifeline shortly before the break as Jan Sikora headed in a Vaclav Jemelka cross.
But Plzen could not stay inside the goal until the end of the first half, as Lewandowski bowed unchecked to hit Dembele’s cross over the line.
Lewandowski completed his Champions League hat-trick with a superb low shot from distance in the 67th minute.
“I don’t know if Robert is the best striker in Europe, but for us he is the best,” Xavi said.
“He helps us play, presses, gives us a lot of solutions in attack. Full maturity as a player, and absolutely amazing. He scored a hat-trick but how was he working with the team.”
Xavi’s men wasted little time getting into fifth, as substitute Torres fired a fine ball into the corner into the top corner of Dembele’s broken pass.
Plzen avoided further damage but faced a daunting task in his remaining five group matches, with a home match against Inter.