Lionel Messi scored two superb goals, had a penalty saved and twice rattled the woodwork as Barcelona romped to a 5-1 comeback victory over Panathinaikos in Group D last night.
The Greek champions stunned the home support in the Nou Camp in the 20th minute when Sidney Govou fired them in front on their first move upfield, before World Player of the Year Messi took charge, levelling with a sublime chip just two minutes later.
Spain striker David Villa swept home from a corner just after the half-hour and Messi scored with a low shot after exchanging passes with Xavi and Pedro and ripping through the Panathinaikos defence on the stroke of half-time.
Pedro was on hand with just over 10 minutes remaining to poke the ball in after Messi's effort from an acute angle struck both uprights and Dani Alves completed the rout with a looping header in added time.
Barça were smarting from a shock La Liga defeat to promoted Hercules at the weekend and were utterly dominant at a packed Nou Camp.
Panathinaikos goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas blocked Messi's weak penalty in the 55th minute after the Argentine had been felled by Jean-Alain Boumsong.
Tzorvas saved his team on numerous other occasions and the biggest surprise of the night was that Messi was unable to complete his hat-trick.
In the other Group D tie, Copenhagen opened their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Rubin Kazan, Dame N'Doye scoring three minutes from time at the Parken Stadium to make sure of all three points for the Danes.
Elsewhere Michel Bastos's first-half goal earned last year's semi-finalists Lyons a 1-0 win against 10-man Schalke in Group B. Bastos benefited from some poor defending to net the only goal midway through the first half against the run of play.
He intercepted a header from Christoph Moritz back to Manuel Neuer after 21 minutes, lifted the ball over the German keeper and it crept over the line despite Benedikt Höwedes's attempt to clear under pressure from the Brazilian winger.
Seven minutes before the interval, centre-back Höwedes was shown a straight red card for a poor tackle on Jimmy Briand.
Benfica take top spot in the group, though, after a straightforward 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv.Reuse content