Lewandowski hat trick leads Barcelona to 5-1 win over Plzen

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during a Group C Champions League soccer match between FC Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

Robert Lewandowski continued his great start with Barcelona by scoring a hat trick and leading the Catalan club to a 5-1 rout of Viktoria Plzen in its Champions League opener on Wednesday. 

Barcelona’s biggest signing in the offseason took his tally to eight goals from his first five matches this season. He became the first player to score hat tricks with three different clubs in the Champions League. 

Frank Kessié, another Barcelona signing, and Ferran Torres also scored for the hosts in the Group C match at the Camp Nou. 

The result ended a 34-unbeaten streak in competitive games for the Czech Republic club, which had won 10 of its first 12 matches this season. It entered Wednesday’s game with 29 wins, five draws. 

Barcelona spent big to revamp its squad despite struggling financially in recent years. It finished behind Real Madrid in the Spanish league and was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League last season, its first without Argentina great Lionel Messi. 

The new signings have clicked early on and Barcelona has outscored opponents 16-2 to start the season. 

Kessié, making his Champions League debut, opened the scoring with a header off a corner kick for his first goal for the Catalan club. Jules Koundé, another Barcelona signing in the offseason, redirected the ball toward Kessié with another header inside the area. 

Lewandowski added to the lead in the 34th with a well-placed shot into the far corner from inside the area. He scored again in first-half stoppage time with a header after a nice cross by Ousmane Dembélé and with a low shot from outside the area in the 67th. 

The 34-year-old Lewandowski, signed from Bayern Munich for nearly 50 million euros ($50 million), had already scored five goals in four Spanish league matches this season. He also had Champions League hat tricks for Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. 

Plzen had pulled one closer in the 44th with a header by Jan Sykora after a defensive lapse by the Barcelona defense.  

Ferran Torres scored the fifth goal for the hosts with a nice volley from close range in the 71st.  

A penalty kick called in favor of Plzen in the 23rd was reversed after video review showed a foul by the attacker in the buildup. 

Barcelona got the easy win despite coach Xavi Hernández rotating his squad and making six changes to the team that defeated Sevilla 3-0 in the Spanish league at the weekend, with Kessié and Ansu Fati among those coming in and veteran captain Sergio Busquets and newly signed Raphinha being left on the bench.  

Pablo Torre made his first-team debut by replacing Kessié in the 81st. 

It was Plzen’s first Champions League game since 2018. It had won its last two games in the competition, as many as it did in its previous 16 matches.  

Barcelona and Plzen had last played in 2011-12 in the group stage of the Champions League, with two Barcelona victories.  

Inter Milan lost 2-0 at home to Bayern Munich in the other Group C game. 

 

Football
Tusker face AFC Leopards test
Football
Switzerland beats Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup
Football
Cameroon 1st African nation to defeat Brazil after Aboubakar header but eliminated
Football
South Korea advances at World Cup after stoppage-time winner