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Messi finally conquers Buffon as Barca beats Juventus 3-0

By The Associated Press
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi finally scored against goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-0 in their first match of the Champions League group stage on Tuesday.

Messi grabbed his 95th and 96th goals in the Champions League, breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first half in the Group D game. After he had hit the post and played a part in Ivan Rakitic's second goal, Messi beat Buffon again to round off the commanding win.

Messi's goals were his first ever against the 39-year-old Buffon, who had kept him without a goal in three previous meetings.

The first half was dull, apart from long attempts by Juventus' Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio, until Messi struck just before the interval.

Ousmane Dembele, the most expensive signing in Barcelona's history, made his first start for the Catalan club. The 20-year-old France forward helped in Messi's goal on a counterattack that caught Juventus' defense off-guard. Messi took the ball from Dembele, worked a quick one-two with Luis Suarez and then rolled a left-footed shot just inside the far post.

Messi helped make it 2-0 in the 56th when his dangerous low cross was cleared by substitute Stefano Sturaro back to Rakitic, who fired it home.

Messi got his double in the 69th when he took the ball on the right side and cut back to go around two defenders. He left Buffon with no chance against another left-footed strike which smacked the lower corner of his net.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique cleared a header by Medhi Benatia off the line in Juventus' best opportunity in the 81st.

Barcelona's all-time top scorer, Messi has scored eight goals in six games across all competitions this season.

Juventus eliminated Barcelona from last year's quarterfinals en route to losing the final to defending champion Real Madrid. Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in the 2015 final.

In the other Group D match, Sporting Lisbon won 3-2 at Olympiakos.

Dembele, who debuted as a substitute in a 5-0 rout of Espanyol on Saturday, showed some of the speed that Barcelona wanted when it signed him, but otherwise had a subdued match.

To pry Dembele away from Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona reinvested a large part of the world record 222 million euros ($262 million) it received from Paris Saint-Germain for Brazil star Neymar. It paid Dortmund 105 million euros ($124 million) in a deal that includes possible add-ons that could bring the total to 147 million euros (about $173 million).

Juventus was without injured defender Giorgio Chiellini, forward Mario Mandzukic and midfielder Sami Khedira. Juan Curado was suspended. During the match, the Italian champions also lost De Sciglio to an injury in the first half, when he was replaced by Sturaro.

___

More AP Champions League coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/ChampionsLeague

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports
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